Beuys 100

One hundred years ago, on May 12, the artist Joseph Beuys was born. Through his radical redefinition of sculpture and art more generally and his spectacular performances he became one of the most famous artists of the second half of the 20th century. He developed his concept of the extended art work which led him to become a politically engaged artist working with and for the Green Party.

The 100th birthday of Joseph Beuys is being celebrated with numerous exhibitions and events worldwide. The state of North-Rhine Westphalia in Germany has put on a particularly rich programme, understandably so as Joseph Beuys was born in Krefeld and spent most of his life in Düsseldorf, the second largest city in North-Rhine Westphalia, where he taught at the art academy. I wonder what Beuys would have made of these state sponsored celebrations given that he was a provocateur and questioner of authority. Continue reading

Ernst Barlach

Self-portrait by Ernst Barlach (source: Wikimedia)

In earlier blog posts on German art the name of Ernst Barlach has been referred to. This is not surprising as he is one of the most important German artists of the 20th century. While best known as a sculptor he also created a substantial oeuvre as a graphic artist and a literary author. He is often referred to as an exponent of Expressionism but his work transcends narrow stylistic boundaries.

Barlach was born in 1870 in Wedel near Hamburg. He studied art in Hamburg and Dresden. A journey to Russia in 1906 was pivotal for the development of his unique style. In 1910 he settled in the small town of Güstrow in Northern Germany where he lived until his death in 1938. Continue reading