Talk:Joseph Beuys/Archive 1

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A header, for one link? Egad. -- Stevietheman 05:22, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

It's just Wikipedia style. I'm trying to find a specific Wikipedia: page to point you towards, but there doesn't seem to be anything explicitly saying this is what should be done. Still, I think it's fair to say that the majority of articles do use a header, even if there's only one link. --Camembert
There's an ongoing discussion about this somewhere. But it seems strange, no matter what the precedent, that a header is being used for a single item underneath it. It's an odd style you won't see in any publication. -- Stevietheman 00:04, 3 Aug 2004 (UTC)
What can I say--it's used in this publication. If you find that discussion, do let me know. --Camembert


Saw the Gugenheim exhibit in '79. It was fantastic, I loved it. Is there some Beuys copy-cat out there, who works with radioactive nuclear waste from Los Alamos and Oak Ridge? linas 03:07, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

Beuys is a Nazi (a real one)

two things:

While being at the Luftwaffe, Beuys participated in the attacks against Stalingrad. He was shot down around 1942 (or 43?). He was heavily wounded, including head injury. At this time in this area (Crimea) there were positively absolutely no Tartars (besides perhaps in his head). His hate against Russians made him recover rather quickly (in the light of the heavyness of his injuries), to fly again against the Russians in 1944.

Naturally there were Tartans in Crimea and he had no hate against Russiuns. It seems to me, that you hate Beuys. It seems to me all Anglosaxons hate Beuys. Why are you trying to write about him then? Non-User:Nouser 07:31, 09 August 2006 (UTC)—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .
Please do not make personal attacks like this and also remain civil. Thank you. Tyrenius 13:43, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
This seems to be vandalism. I have ancestors who perished at the hands of the Nazis - but there is no case one can make out for him having Nazi leanings later in life; the exact opposite. But there is a lack of serious critical dissection of his earlier leanings anywhere, not just in the Wiki page - this needs to be tackled responsibly otherwise we play into the hands of the anti-semites. Meanwhile - let's use a language which can invite participation rather than put us off! thegirlinwhite 13:58, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

I feel that whoever wrote this text is either in the midst of a personal transformation or forgetting to recognise the pure devistation that is the result of a world war. Even if you are not old enough to have experienced such a terrible monster as a world war, then you should be able to imagine how afraid and uncertain life must have seemed to everybody throughout Europe at that time. Food was exhausted, so starvation was like a cancer.people fighting to exist. Life meant very little for several years during and after world war two, especially if you were a German. Give the man a chance to redeem himself, before you chop off his head. How are we to move forward, if intelligent people like you choose to reflect on the past as if it were a sport report. Tread carefully my friend, as this is our world, not the Tartans and our artists are the people who hold true and keep us informed on a real level. Forget politics and religion and move on.

Beuys was NOT a Nazi!

The above contributor may be referring to a controversial book published in Germany in the mid-1990's - "Flieger, Filz und Vaterland" which was widely derided by the German press as nonsense. As to the above allegations: we simply do not know whether the crash/rescue story is true or not, even though official Wehrmacht records suggest he made it up. So what? Isn't that what art is all about? That does NOT make him a Nazi! The work of Joseph Beuys poignantly deals with the trauma of Auschwitz in a number of important installations - to call Beuys a Nazi is insulting and stupid! It is no secret either that Beuys is firmly rooted in the traditions of German culture - he was well versed in Germanic and Norse mythology, he was influenced by German Romanticism (mainly Novalis) and he admired the work of Wagner and Nietzsche. None of this makes him a Nazi. He was also interested in artists and writers banned by the Nazis such as Wilhelm Lehmbruck or Bertolt Brecht, even rescuing books from book burnings staged during the 1930's. Beuys was a brave and highly decorated soldier just like many other young German soldiers who believed it was their duty to fight for their home country. This makes him a patriot but certainly not a Nazi! Finally: it is well known how supportive Beuys was of modern democracy, believing that our Western democracies should be made even more democratic. I suggest that we trash the above entry on Beuys being a Nazi.

I have to agree all the thing are written here in the lines directly before: Beuys was NOT a Nazi (at least he wasn't a Nazi or even a facist since he was shut down in the war). Some more facts, I have to add: 1. Beuys was an abstract artist, the kind of arts the Nazis called "Entartete Kunst". 2. Beuys was a radical pacifist. If the Nazis were pacifists everything I learned about history was wrong. 3. Beuys believed in basic democrazy, a special kind of grass root democrazy. I don't believe that facists or Nazis believed in democrazy, my history books tell me something else. 4. Beuys said "Everyone is an artists", the Nazis believed only in a small group of people who have to be artists. 5. Beuys was one of the founders of the Green Party in Germany and stayed for some years in it. In the foundation phasis of the Greens there were right-winged and left-winged peoples in it, but after a few months the right-wingeds left the Greens and founded their own party. Beuys stayed at the Greens. 6. Beuys was intrested in the theories of Freud, a man the NNazis didn't like very much. Beuys was intrested in some strange things. He was intrested in northern mythology (like in hinduism) and the theories of Rudolf Steiner (like the theories of S.Freud), but he was NOT a Nazi. Coffeinfreak 19:58, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree with the ones above, and have something to say about the Tartar myth. True or not it is a pivotal event in Beuys life and art. Wheter he created it or not (he probably did) it is an essential episode in his life in the understanding of his works. Its a myth, doesn't have to be historically true to be significant. About him being a Nazi: the claim is not even worth talking about. Many people were scared into the Hitler youth, many were led to believe Nazist ideology, but the things for which Beuys fought after the war simply goes against every part of the fascist ideology!

Indeed Beuys was a Nazi during the war (as were most Germans in Germany at the time either explicitily or otherwise) - and at least had the courage to admit that he spent the war in the Luftwaffe, much of it on the Western Front. That said, he spent the rest of his life trying in some measure to atone for that period. Whether he managed to do so in any degree is a valid issue to debate. What is clear however is that the his understanding of the Holocaust (post war) laid very heavily on him, and much of his larger installation and sculptural work clearly tries to address this horror as he once said " the black marks that we cannot discuss".

This article needs a lot of work!

All that stuff about Beuys being in the Hitler-Youth and burning down synagogues needs to be cleaned up! This is 'Sun'-newspaper level! All boys had to join the Hitler-Youth in Nazi Germany. It sounds a bit like accusing Pope Benedict XVI of being a Nazi because he was forced to join the Hitler Youth, when in fact he was brave enough to say that he wanted to become a Catholic priest (a profession much hated by the Nazis!). There's a longish section on Beuys in the Second World War (only six years of his life!) and very little on his work and why he is considered to be such a pivotal figure in 20th century art, even less on his complex involvement in German politics. Reading this article you'd think he was some right-wing nutcase - then all of a sudden we read at the end of the article that he was a pacifist! This article is in very bad shape and certainly needs a lot of work!

Please Wikipedia:Sign your posts on talk pages. Thanks. Hyacinth 10:43, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Article is really really bad!!!

Please: I'm new to Wikipedia - could somebody who knows how to do this put one of those boxes at the beginning of the article saying that it needs a big clean-up if not complete re-write! Could you please also put up a sign saying that the neutrality of the article is disputed - Beuys comes across as a Nazi (he was a pacifist and a democrat - unfortunately he was born in the wrong country at the wrong time, hence Hitler-Youth etc.) in this article. Something needs to be done fast here! Beuys is regarded as one of the most infuential artists of the 20th century - this article does not explain why! If Wikipedia is to be regarded as a serious encylopedia, it can not afford to accuse Beuys of being a Nazi art clown. So long, 19 March 2006

Just figured out how to do what I asked for above...

Yes, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, but it is an open project, too. And there is no protection against vandalism! Half a year ago, there was a good article about Beuys and them someone who hates Beuys made that...

In addition to other criticism's made of this article

Everybody seems to have concentrated on mkaing complaints about the way this article presents Joseph Beuys as a Nazi war hero. I think that what is really needed is greater discourse on Beuys' work. There is a brief discussion of Beuys's affiliation with the Fluxus group, much of this contradicts several books I have read on the subject. Beuys was not the most prominent fluxus member. He had a massive falling out with founder members after a brief period of collaboration with Fluxus artists, and no longer had his work associated with them. Whoever wrote the article did not do a very good job, I agree with most of the people above. I am currently doing some research on Beuys and will happily add to this Wikipedia entry when I have completed some thorough research, which is what this page is desperately in need of.

Adam Kidd

Here is an extract from an essay I have written which refrenced Beuys':

On the fringes of Fluxus (due largely to a difference of opinion between himself and Maciunas) was Joseph Beuys, who is one of the most interesting figures of the period. Beuys has been seen as situating himself as the successor to a line of Germanic artists who instituted change and development in the arts of his own country (Germany) as well as being an artist of international significance. He used similar methods to artists’ like DuChamp, Manzoni, Cage and Klein, using readymades, creating work in multiple editions and shifting the focus from what an artist makes to his ‘personality, activities and opinions’. He also formed his own theories of social sculpture, the mythic-symbolical use of materials and lobbied for democratic reform, becoming a founder member of the German Green Party.

Beuys was a theoretician, teacher, shaman and healer. Any assessment of his legacy cannot overlook the importance of his teaching to his work. Beuys was famous for his slogan ‘everyone an artist’, He believed that to be a teacher was his greatest work of art, and promoted the idea that “the enlarged conception of art includes every human action”. He preferred to use the German term ‘Plastik’ (plastic) instead of sculpture, which has its roots in the Ancient Greek word for modelling (whereas sculpture comes from the Latin, and describes chipping away to reveal the object.) Beuys tells us that during the Greek Period they believed the entire human being was “an expression of plastic”.

One thing that Beuys is perhaps disproportionately famous for is the great ‘story’ of his life. In an event that lives on the borders of the imagined and truly experienced Beuys has told how, as a pilot for the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, he was shot down over the Crimea and nursed back to health by Tartar’s. Only recently has the debate upon the significance of Beuys’ involvement with the Nazi party been fully explored. Gene Ray’s essay, in his book "Mapping the Legacy" draws some clear conclusions on the importance of World War II to Beuys’ work, illuminating and illustrating metaphors which, I believe, cannot be mistaken.

Ray suggests that Beuys positioned himself as healer for the German psyche, and made works that spoke directly of the holocaust, in an attempt to bring about a ‘project of mourning’. Beuys often used felt and fat in his installation and performance pieces. The connection made between these materials and Beuys’ autobiographical tale of ‘healing’ at the hands of the Tartars gains a deeper implication when carefully considered. Gene Ray suggests that these materials speak directly of Auschwitz, and it cannot be denied that the artist has had a preoccupation with the subject. Beuys had made a proposal for the Auschwitz memorials and in an exhibition of his Vitrine’s the only titled piece was his Auschwitz Demonstration containing a selection of found objects that evoke the place.

Ray suggests that the felt and fat are substitutes for holocaust victims. In Auschwitz Jews who were about to be killed had all of their hair shaved, which was shipped to German owned factories where it was processed into felt. The fat, in Ray’s interpretation, is a symbol for the human fat melting in the ovens of Auschwitz. Shifting these symbols can be applied to much of Beuys’ sculptural and installation work. For example, ‘the abandoned sleep of me and my loves’, can be seen as a representation of the squat bunk beds of Auschwitz, the grey of the felt blankets is highly evocative.

We should actually read Beuys before pretending to Define him

First of all, the most singular and central theme of Beuys artwork is the concept of healing. The fat and the felt do not act in the traditional role of a directly representational item; they are not stand-ins for other objects (i.e. the fat and the felt are not representational of holocaust victims; they are shamanistic medicines for a homeopathic healing of society). it is good for us in this community to remember that we are not only doing a disservice to those that use this format when we inflict our personal, biased opinions upon an entry, we are doing a disservice to ourselves. The concept of wikipedia is beautiful in that we can right the prejudices of historians, but we must be willing to right those same injustices when we ourselves commit them. In a nutshell what I am saying is that Beuys himself was a Nazi fighter pilot, and for that he felt a sense of remorse that affected his every action for the rest of his life. He dedicated the remainder of his life working to heal the wounds of the world and working towards peace and understanding. Redemption and repentance were the very aims of his work.

I suggest Carin Kuoni's Energy Plan for Western Man or Gene Ray's Joseph Beuys: Mapping the Legacy. There is no shortage of Beuys commentary, or his own personal writing for that matter.

Beuys was not a "Nazi fighter pilot" and the central motivation for his art was not a bad conscience, as you seem to be implying. Have a look at the above discussion prior to the previous contributors comments. If you can speak German also have a look at the very informative discussion on the German Wikipedia article on Beuys - the article there was almost erased after some contributors kept insisting that Beuys had been a Nazi. The German article has now returned to a more neutral version.-- 10:14, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

I find it slightly dangerous to resolve disputes on wikipedia by referring back to wikipedia for the answers. With that said- for a short answer here are some quotes from . I am not proposing this for application to the article page, just merely as evidence to the talk page. I did recommend the Gene Ray book- but do not fully agree with some of his 'extrapolations' as to meaning in Beuys work; they tend to be his personal views of Beuys' work and not grounded in anythig more than Ray's personal readings of the work. I do not believe that those opinions are not valid or useful; I only state that they may not be the clearest interpretation of what Joseph Beuys had intended. It also would not seem to correspond to Beuys responses to the events surrounding the violence of the Baader-Meinhof.

-"In 1940 he joined the military, volunteering in order to avoid the draft. He was trained as an aircraft radio operator and combat pilot."
-"Coming to terms with his involvement in the war was a long process and much of his artwork. Beuys often said that his interest in fat and felt as sculptural materials grew out of a wartime experience--a plane crash in the Crimea, after which he was rescued by nomadic Tartars who rubbed him with fat and wrapped him in felt to heal and warm his body."
-and the very next quote produces the hitch in this argument "While the story appears to have little grounding in real events, its poetics are strong enough to have made the story one of the most enduring aspects of his mythic biography."

While there is much to support that the self made myth surrounding Beuys is not situated in facts- it is probably safest to suggest that Beuys himself would be in the better position to descibe the meaning of Beuys' artwork.

Beuys was NOT a combat pilot - he was trained by Heinz Sielmann (later to become a famed director of wildlife films) as a BORDFUNKER! Your source is wrong or may simply be making Beuys' army career sound more dramatic than it in fact was in order to bestow a dangerous glamour on Beuys. As for the 'Tartar legend' everyone now seems so convinced was a bit of Beuys' imagination - it's extraordinary how much credibility is given to some flimsy Wehrmacht records taken down on the Eastern Front in the middle of a war. The fact is that Beuys died at a fairly young age from the long-term effects of his many war wounds.-- 20:58, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Edits to the page, comments on above discussion- or: Read Rudolph Steiner to understand Beuys!

Yes. Beuys was not a nazi fighter pilot. He was a radio operator!

I did read Beuys before pretending to define him. It is in fact Gene Ray in his book (reccomended above!) Mapping the Legacy who suggests a connection between fat and felt and the victims of Auschwitz. I don't think he was saying Beuys saw them as stand-ins for those victims but that all of Beuys's work contained many layers of meaning. We know that fat and felt symbolised healing, but their origins come from a story of mythic origin which Beuys himself created/elaborated. Beuys was also a firm believer in the homeopathic tradition: heal like with like. Hence the theory that Beuys used materials that were evocative of the holocaust to heal the wound he percieved in the German psyche. Hair was collected at Auschwitz to be processed into felt. Fat from the cremations was collected and reused as fuel for the fires of further bodies.

Beuys, I would say, saw that the problem in Germany was that the German people felt guilt for the crimes of the holocaust, when they needed to feel empathy. They buried the past when they should have disected it thoroughly. By sanctioning themselves a master-race, as super-human, the German People became de-humanised, they distanced themselves from the rest of humanity. To empathise with your victim is to see yourself as the same, to destory the distinction. "Beuys felt it was dangerous to bury the pasat without examining it and fatal to build a society on a foundation of sand where nobody had any idea of their roots." (Caroline Tisdall)

I have edited the section about Beuys's politics. First I mentioned Rudolph Steiner, apparently Beuys owned hundreds of books by Steiner, which are held in the Beuys archive and are covered in Beuys notes and annotations. It is said that his Social Sculpture theory is built on the foundations of Steiners' Threefold Social Order.

Somebody had said that the AUD party which Beuys stood for in 1976 was right wing. To replace that judgement I have quoted an election pamphlet written by Beuys for that campaign.

I wrote my comments about the potentially symbolic use of fat and felt here in the discussion section and not in the main page. As useful as I found these ideas when interpretting Beuys work I appreciate they are only theories.

Adam Kidd (thatsushiguy-at, 18 April 2006 22:20 GMT

Beuys's influence on German artists

"1960s, Joseph Beuys created sculpture, performance art, and installation art that challenged the very definition of “high art.” Incorporating materials such as fat and felt, Beuys's work represented an individual take on Pop art's goal of bringing art into the realm of the everyday experience; his example influenced a new generation of artists. Perhaps the most notable German figure of the 1970s was Gerhard Richter, who became known for his paintings based on photographs. Blurring the lines between the media of photography and painting, his beautifully executed works anticipated the challenge to traditional forms that would characterize postmodern art. German art was again at the centre of the international art world when Neo-Expressionism became the dominant international trend of the 1980s. Building upon German art's long-standing interest in Expressionism, artists such as Georg Baselitz (who had been making important work since the 1960s), Anselm Kiefer, and Sigmar Polke combined a raw, expressive application of paint with challenging subject matter." "Germany." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 9 May 2006 <>.

Beuys in popular culture

Although a fairly obscure artist, should we note that a zombie version of Bueys frequently appears/is mentioned in the online comic Cat and Girl? The_Iconoclast 05:22, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

No, we definitely shouldn't.-- 13:06, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

Y not? I think it should be mentioned Cat and Girl is fairly established.Sanitycult (talk) 06:44, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Noboby interested in Beuys?

Considering that this article has been such a mess for so long it seems nobody in the English-speaking world is interested in Beuys...-- 22:34, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

OK. You sparked me and added little changes. First, considering he is probably the best concept artist, added to his giant charisma and big political role, named him as "...prominents of the whole century" (not simply 2nd 1/2). Concept art has dominated, for good or bad, lot of decades ( including probably today ).
Included too some lines of books about them in his interesting trips to new york.
There seems to be a general deficiency of interest on wiki in contemporary artists. I have filled in on some of these, but help is welcome. Tyrenius 21:48, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

ja ja ja ne ne ne

Too much discussion. Beuys said it best, "Ja ja ja ja ja ne ne ne ne ne ja ja ja ja ja ne ne ne ne ne ja ja ja ja ja ne ne ne ne ja ja ja ja ja ne ne ne ne ne ja ja ja ja ja ne ne ne ne ne ja ja ja ja ja ne ne ne ne ne ja ja ja ja ja ja . . ."[citation needed]

Speculation, opinion and discussion

Please note that it is no help whatsoever to give opinions and make speculations, unless these are backed up by verifiable sources, which can then provide useful material for the article. Tyrenius 21:19, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Please note that Joseph Beuys was and still remains a great artist. Fortunateky or unfortunately, the work of every artist stands apart from politics and religion and is therefore, seperated or detatched as is an observer in any given situation. When an artist is used, or forced to work outside of his or her choice, then sureley this is commercial art or simply survival.

German Article

Just take a look on it. Nobody interested in translating it? -- 18:07, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

pov notice

is there still controversy or can i delete the pov notice? trueblood 19:58, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Article Creation and Improvement Drive

How about nominating this article for the Wikipedia:Article Creation and Improvement Drive? I will do it if there is no objection. S.dedalus 20:06, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

Complete rewrite

I'll have a go at a re-write over the next couple of weeks - I'll try to represent adequately all facets of the above debate Edkrcma 10:33, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Rewrite complete and uploaded. There are no embedded links as of yet, nor have I had a chance to link in my footnotes, which I will do asap. Edkrcma 22:35, 30 October 2006 (UTC)


i'd be unhappy, with the only picture of beuys being one in a german WWII uniform. the only kind of article were that usually happens is the ones about soldiers and war criminals. if no other picture is added, i am goin to delete this one.trueblood 08:38, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

I just added a NPOV picture, and removed the one of the hat.--Grifomaniacs 21:51, 28 December 2006 (UTC)