Joseph Beuys

"Every revolution begins with stupid questions."
 
March 17 - June 18, 2021
Joseph Beuys, Objekt zum Schmieren und Drehen, 1972, Tin box painted with oil paint (cross), grease, screwdriver, edition of 100 copies.

For the first time, a European gallery is showing approximately 300 works by the artist of the century, Joseph Beuys (* May 12, 1921 in Krefeld; † January 23, 1986 in Düsseldorf). In celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birthday and complementary to the Beuys exhibition in Belvedere 21, the Konzett Gallery in Vienna invites visitors to explore the exhibition “Every revolution begins with stupid questions” through June 18, 2021.

The starting point is the quote from the artist, “Every person is an artist”, to which Martin Kippenberger later replied:“Every artist is a person”.Springing from the dichotomy of these two statements, the exhibition examines the extent to which art and commerce are still linked, even in times of a pandemic.

We are currently experiencing the world in a fragile state.The corona pandemic has put economic and social models to the test.Facing the virulent problems of our time, we only have to look back to the models Beuys expressed in his art to find answers to today’s debate on capitalism and “models for direct democracy”, as well as to significant environmental topics such as the so-called climate catastrophe with his ensemble of works “Difesa della Natura”.Many of his important works were created following the creed: “Every revolution begins with stupid questions.”

The artist and political activist Beuys is rightly considered a pioneer and a visionary for political approaches that make his art appear more topical than ever to today’s viewer.For the answers to the challenges of our time can be found in his work.In this respect, the exhibition “Every revolution begins with stupid questions”, a complement to the Belvedere exhibition, above all bridges the gaps between the topics: shamanism, pioneer of media art, his relationship to the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and the artist’s image of women.

A 30-year liaison with collectors and a deep exploration of the art-historical role of the Düsseldorf-based Fluxus artist makes this unique project possible.The major collector Philipp Konzett, in cooperation with the exhibition curator of the European Art Association, Sebastian C. Strenger, present to the world for the first time a selection of Beuys’ graphic oeuvre from every creative phase with approximately 25 significant drawings and collages by the exceptional artist.They provide an insight into his life’s work including a dust image from 1948, “Nelly (Leberwurstbein)” (1958), “Filzplastiken” (1962), “Demokratie ist lustig” (1973), “Maschinenversuch” (1979) and “Fettschwanz” (1982), as well as other works up to 1986, the year the artist past away.

 

Joseph Beuys, Torso, 1955, Watercolor on paper, collage, on cardboard, 62,5 x 44,8 cm

 

The presentation rooms designed for the exhibition by Gernot Schauer, also shed light on the importance of Beuys as a media artist for the first time. This is made clear to the viewer through the 30 or so works of copier art that the artist created with the help of the first Xerox copier. In addition to the important ensemble of approximately 60 works on economic values, the exhibition organizers also present around 120 Beuys multiples, as well as 150 signed postcards that reflect the democratic understanding of Joseph Beuys that art should be affordable for everyone.35 years after his death, the world is honoring Beuys as an artist of the century with more than 50 international exhibitions this year.   

This exhibition was made possible primarily through purchases over a period of 30 years from the most important private collections and provided with first-class provenances such as that of Beuys’ former private secretary and later gallery owner Heiner Bastian, the Reinhard Schlegel and Josef Wendker collections, the gallery owners Bernd Klüser, Armin Hundertmark, Heinz Holtmann, Siegfried Sander, Alfred Schmela and many more.

Approximately 50 further works from Beuys out of the Philipp Konzett Collection are currently on display in international Beuys exhibitions such as “Think. Act. Convey.” in Belvedere 21 (March 4 - June 13), the Bundeskunsthalle with “Beuys - Lehmbruck. Thinking is sculpture” (June 25 - November 1) in Bonn, the Dom Museum Wien and the Kunsthaus Bregenz.

 

Joseph Beuys, Giesskanne, 1985, ink on rubber and plastic with metal screws, 39,5 x 35 cm

The collector Philipp Konzett on his exhibition project:“To put it in the words of Beuys, “The future that we want has to be invented, otherwise we will get one that we don’t want.”His radically simple approach would be a lesson for any politician.Exploring the art of Joseph Beuys is a borderline experience, but certainly also one that will expand the consciousness of anyone interested!”         

Co-curator Sebastian C. Strenger from the European Art Association:“Beuys is more topical than ever.Here we find answers that politicians do not dare to express.The artist Beuys visibly anticipated gentrification with all its problems and opportunities in his work.And that, at a time when they were not on any geopolitical map.”   

 
Curators: Sebastian C. Strenger and Philipp Konzett
Exhibition design: Gernot Schauer

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