Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) was one of the major German artists of the second half of the 20th century. With “Block Beuys”, the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt possesses his largest authentic complex of works in the world.
Its core is made up by the group of works acquired in 1967 by the Darmstadt collector Karl Ströher, which was enlarged and expanded up after 1968. Beuys himself installed the objects and their showcases in 1970. “Block Beuys” was acquired for the museum in 1989.
The complex encompasses 290 titled works dating from 1949 to 1972 arranged in seven galleries and includes numerous pieces of central importance for an understanding of the artists, for example “The Grauballe Man” (1952), “Virgin” (1961), “Scenes from the Deer Hunt” (1961), “Chair with Fat” (1963), “FOND II” (1968) and “FOND III“ (1969). Felt objects from 1964 to 1967 document the significance of one of the artist’s primary material. Objects deriving from former actions and numerous multiples by Joseph Beuys are arranged in 23 showcases. The collection is rounded off by drawings and watercolours.
“Everyone is an artist”
Joseph Beuys’s artistic work is imbued by his theory of “social sculpture” and by his expansion of the traditional concept of art, namely the rejection of formal aesthetic standards and firmly established artistic principles, the practice of art as an integral process of perception and cognition in which everyone should participate and actively intervene in changing society.
For the artist, thinking is the true elementary stage of sculpture. Sculpture is an evolutionary process – open and flexible, vibrant and flowing between the opposites of chaos and order, organic and crystalline, warm and cold. The objective is to break open the materially one-sided concept of knowledge that limits human consciousness and his potential for action in addition to harmonising logic and spirituality.
With his typical materials felt and fat, his actions in which the diverse manifestations of energy play a central role and in his untiring efforts to convey of his ideas that would also have an effect on politics, Beuys was extremely consequential in living out his own concept of art. “Block Beuys” in the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt gives striking evidence of this.