Moyland Castle in Bedburg Hau with bridge, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Top ex­hib­i­tions in the Beuys an­niversary year

An artist leaves his mark

Joseph Beuys was an action artist, activist, and visionary. He decisively influenced 20th century art. His influence, relationships, and friendships reach far and wide and continue to leave their creative traces today.

The man with the hat would have turned 100 on 12 May this year. Many cultural institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia take the opportunity to host exhibitions in his honour, dealing either with Beuys’ controversially discussed cosmos of ideas, illuminating his “expanded concept of art”, or highlighting his relationships to other artists. Art enthusiasts will find a selection of exhibitions below that will bring them closer to the self-proclaimed shaman. All of them all part of the anniversary programme beuys 2021.

The Museum Kurhaus Kleve, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

World view, concept of art, views

Revolution Beuys, Museum Ostwall in the Dortmunder U

The “Revolution Beuys” exhibition project collects objects and questions in a societal laboratory, creating a setting of political action and reaction in a discussion of past, present, and future processes of societal interaction, forms of activism, and different ideas of man. For three months, the Schaufenster, a prominent exhibition room of the Museum Ostwall in the Dortmunder U, will host an ongoing conference, allowing visitors to engage in critical discussion between objects and concepts and the themes at Beuys‘ focus.

Dates: 13 August to 17 October 2021

Torn out of time, Von der Heydt Museum in Wuppertal

Moments from Joseph Beuys’ performative art created in the course of more than two decades are presented in this exhibition at the Von der Heydt Museum. The exhibition “Torn out of Time” presents photographs by photographer Ute Klophaus (1940-2010), who devoted her work primarily to Beuys, capturing the visionary’s media-effective actions. Her camera observations during the 24-hour happening in 1965 – one of the most important events of the international Fluxus movement – turned into a key experience for the Wuppertal-born artist. Guests can learn the reasons for this on a walk through the exhibition halls of the Wuppertal house.

Dates: 19 September 2021 to 9 January 2022

The Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Con­nec­tions, re­la­tion­ships, friend­ships

Lehmbruck – Beuys. “Alles ist Skulptur”, Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg

Wilhelm Lehmbruck and Joseph Beuys were equally convinced that sculpture can exert a formative effect on society, and even bring about change for the better. Their attitude becomes particularly clear to visitors of the new exhibition at the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg when they recognise comparable elements in juxtaposed works by both artists. The “Lehmbruck – Beuys. Alles ist Skulptur” (“Everything is sculpture”) exhibition presents their artistic affinity, making clear just why Beuys thanked his “teacher” in his last speech at the awarding of the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Prize in 1986 by saying that “Everything is sculpture, this picture virtually called out to me.”

Dates: 26 June 2021 to 1 November 2021

Beuys – Lehmbruck. “Denken ist Plastik”, Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn

What supported Joseph Beuys in his decision to devote his life to art? This question is currently dealt with by the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn and its “Beuys – Lehmbruck. Denken ist Plastik” (“Thinking is plastic”) exhibition that connects two exceptional personalities. The location uses selected works by either artist to point out the significance of Wilhelm Lehmbruck’s work for Joseph Beuys. In his last speech on 12 January 1986, given at the award ceremony for the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Prize, the man with the hat explained just how essential the works of the popular Duisburg sculptor had been for his development.

Dates: 25 June 2021 to 1 November 2021

Beuys & Duchamp. Artists of the future, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld

Opponents, competitors, or sparring partners? What was the relationship between Joseph Beuys and Marcel Duchamp, exactly? The new exhibition at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum places the work of Joseph Beuys opposite that of the French-American painter and object artist for the first time. Both men left a clear mark on 20th century art. While each of them was quite unique, they manage to connect to each other in a multitude of aspects in spite of all their differences. This exhibition uses selected works to demonstrate this along with the pioneering potential of the respective oeuvres. This is the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum’s second exhibition in the Beuys anniversary year, preceded by the work exhibition “art = man = creativity = freedom” from 28 March to 1 August 2021.

Dates: 8 October 2021 to 16 January 2022