Beuys & Bike: To the an­niversary by bike

Joseph Beuys set the art world in motion. A new cycling route follows him through Germany’s far west to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth

Illustration Beuys & Bike, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

In the Lower Rhine landscape, where the Rhine is no longer hemmed in by mountains but has plenty of space to unfold, ideas and thoughts can spread just as freely. Joseph Beuys grew up on the downstream section of the Lower Rhine, just off the German-Dutch border. This is where he made friends, overcame crises, and found his way to art. A little further up the Rhine, additional formative encounters and artistic impulses shaped him later in life. Of course he influenced his surroundings in turn, leaving many traces that are worth exploring.

The new cycling route links places that played important roles in his life and work, such as his birthplace, his first studio, the Art Academy, important works, or museums and galleries that made his work known early on, in an active experience. Spanning about 300 kilometres from Kleve to Leverkusen, Beuys & Bike can be broken down into individual stages to match the cyclist’s mood, providing an active holiday with culture.

No matter if you are looking for a day trip or a multiple-day cycling holiday: Riding your bike on this trail will not only introduce you to the artist and his work, but also to the Lower Rhine, which is well worth visiting with its busy cities, historical town centres, magnificent palaces, and undisturbed wetland meadows. Feel just like Joseph Beuys, whose early childhood experiences included regular cycling tours with his father, always accompanied by the vast expanse around them, the sky high overhead and the river by their side.

Traces and sta­tions

Im­press­ive art sites, urb­an city ex­per­i­ence, broad land­scapes: on tour in the home­land of Joseph Beuys

Golden Swan at the Schwanenburg in Kleve, © Peter Schiller, Niederrhein Tourismus

Beuys and Kleve

Joseph Beuys grew up in Kleve. This is where he took his first steps and where he later found his way to art. The early stages of his ca­reer can be traced in ori­gin­al loc­a­tions here.

Moyland Palace in spring , © Stiftung Museum Schloss Moyland / Maurice Dorren

Beuys and Bed­burg Hau

Moy­land Castle in Bed­burg-Hau on the Lower Rhine is an im­press­ive moated castle that houses the largest col­lec­tion of works by Joseph Beuys.

The Küppersmühle Museum at Duisburg's inner harbor, © Johannes Höhn

Beuys and Duis­burg

Everything is sculp­ture – in Duis­burg more than any­where else. Art in former ware­house build­ings, an ex­tens­ive sculp­ture park, and what may well be the best ad­dress for in­ter­na­tion­al sculp­ture and ob­ject art can be dis­covered here as the per­fect high­lights of a cyc­ling tour in­to Beuys’ past. A de­tour to the har­bour dis­trict of Ruhrort is also worth­while.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld, © Johannes Höhn

Beuys and Krefeld

Beuys and Krefeld – As his birth­place, the city on the Lower Rhine has a spe­cial con­nec­tion to the artist. Not all traces Beuys left there, in­clud­ing the build­ing where his cradle stood, are im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous. Nev­er­the­less, they are all quite ex­cit­ing.

Beuys mural on a house wall near the Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach, © Johannes Höhn

Beuys and Mönchenglad­bach

Joseph Beuys has been closely as­so­ci­ated with Mönchenglad­bach since the 1960s and 1970s. The city on the green Lower Rhine where he had his first com­pre­hens­ive solo ex­hib­i­tion gave his ca­reer a tre­mend­ous boost. He has left many a leg­acy around the Ab­teiberg that still bears wit­ness to his work and in­flu­ence today. Cyc­lists can fol­low the artist’s tracks on a tour of the city and dis­cov­er oth­er sights, such as pieces of art placed in pub­lic spaces.

View upwards on the museum island Hombroich Neuss  , © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Beuys and Neuss

Time for the is­land! Anatol Herzfeld, mas­ter stu­dent and long-time com­pan­ion of Joseph Beuys, helped design this spe­cial place in Neuss. Dis­cov­er stone, wood, and steel sculp­tures as well as Anatol’s former stu­dio on a tour of the is­land.

Road sign Drakeplatz in Düsseldorf, © Johannes Höhn

Beuys and Düs­sel­dorf

Joseph Beuys of­ten crossed the Rhine Bridge from Ober­kas­sel to the Art Academy by bike when he made his way from his res­id­en­tial stu­dio on Drake­platz to the uni­ver­sity. Düs­sel­dorf was the artist’s home. He found the city to be a centre for ex­chan­ging ideas, his ad­op­ted home, and his nuc­le­us of polit­ic­al ac­tion.

Morsbroich Castle in Leverkusen, © Johannes Höhn

Beuys and Leverkusen

A mag­ni­fi­cent set­ting, a party of the SPD loc­al as­so­ci­ation, which is a Ger­man party, a bathtub full of gauze band­ages, band-aids, and grease, and the ques­tion: Is that art? There was a par­tic­u­larly curi­ous story hap­pen­ing at Schloss Mors­broi­ch once, with a work of art by Joseph Beuys as the prot­ag­on­ist and vic­tim at the same time.

Beuys & Bike: The cyc­ling route

Follow the traces of Beuys by bike on a approx. 300 kilometres long route

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Illustration Beuys & Bike, © Tourismus NRW e.V.