Joseph Beuys  

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"Had it not been for the Tartars I would not be alive today ... [they] found me days later. [...] They covered my body in fat to help it regenerate warmth, and wrapped it in felt as an insulator to keep warmth in." --Myth of Joseph Beuys being saved by the Tartars after a plane crash

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Joseph Beuys (12 May 1921 – 23 January 1986) was a German artist, known for such works as Eurasienstab (1967).

His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy; it culminates in his "extended definition of art" and the idea of social sculpture as a gesamtkunstwerk, for which he claimed a creative, participatory role in shaping society and politics. His career was characterized by passionate, even acrimonious public debate. He is now regarded as one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century.

He is most famous for his ritualistic public performances and his energetic championing of the healing potential of art and the power of a universal human creativity. As well as performances, Beuys produced sculptures, environments, vitrines, 450 prints and posters, and thousands of drawings. He was also a committed teacher and increasingly devoted much of his energy to German politics. A charismatic and controversial figure, the nature and value of Beuys’s contribution to Western art has elicited a hotly contested and often polarised debate.

See also

List of works

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