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

Everyone is an artist. Cosmopolitan exercises with Joseph Beuys, K20 of the Kunstsammlung NRW in Düsseldorf

A cosmopolitan approach and action art are inseparable from Joseph Beuys. His radical idea that art could thoroughly renew society is propagated to this day, encouraging other artists to think of themselves as actors, contributing creatively and helping to shape the future. In the process of this, Beuys’ “expanded concept of art” is questioned, expanded, refuted, or confirmed. The Kunstsammlung NRW is now creating its own space for the resulting dialogue in an exhibition at the K20, with contemporary artists and representatives from various sectors of society participating in it. Even the visitors become part of the interaction through reception.

Dates: 27 March 2021 to 15 August 2021

Beuys and the shamans, Museum Moyland Castle in Bedburg-Hau

Seeing the shamanic world through the eyes of an artist and approaching spiritual ideas through art will be made possible at Moyland Castle starting in May. In its new exhibition, the museum with the world’s largest collection of Beuys’ works focuses on the relationship of the painter, sculptor, and activist to religious media. This exhibition takes a look at the Eurasian region and exhibitions in the year of Beuys’ 100th birthday. Selected works illustrate the concept of spirituality, transformation, and wholeness of this polarising man in the hat.

Dates: 2 May 2021 to 29 August 2021

“Die unsichtbare Skulptur” (“Invisible Sculpture”). The expanded concept of art according to Joseph Beuys, Zollverein World Heritage Site in Essen

As long as he lived, Joseph Beuys was convinced that the creative power of art can change the world for the better, making it more sustainable and more worth living in. The three-part exhibition “Die unsichtbare Skulptur” (“Invisible Sculpture”) at the Zollverein World Heritage Site represents this based on central works and unpublished material alike. The exhibition deals with three themes that played central roles in the sculptor and action artist’s works: Democracy, ecology, and creativity. Individual exhibits in the contemporary context help visitors understand the socio-political dimension of Beuys’ work. The visionary’s connection to the Ruhr region, where the two branches of his Free International University were founded, is explored as well.

Dates: 10 May 2021 to 26 September 2021

Intuition! Dimensions of the early work of Joseph Beuys, Museum Kurhaus Kleve (MKK)

Joseph Beuys’ early creative years were marked by doubt and stagnation as well as by courage and reorientation. All of this shaped his development as an artistic personality, whom many remember today for his sensational action art and unusual world view. The “Intuition” exhibition of the Museum Kurhaus Kleve focuses on 24-year-old Joseph Beuys’ return to Kleve from the war, to operate a studio in today’s museum building that is part of the exhibition as well. The exhibition spans the time until he became a professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1961, showing the influences that fostered the artist’s development from “sensitive traditionalist” to “visionary social sculptor”.

Dates: 19 June to 3 October 2021

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

Mataré + Beuys + Immendorff, Academy Gallery, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf

Three influential personalities of the Düsseldorf Art Academy, more than two points of connection between them, and an exhibition that exposes some exciting relations: “Mataré + Beuys + Immendorff” takes a closer look at individual artistic encounters between this trio; early drawings, sculptures, and woodcuts are some items that reflect both proximity and distance between master student Beuys and his teacher Mataré. One room hosts works by Jörg Immendorff, who was a favourite student of Beuys as a teacher in turn. His works reflect the awe he had for his master.

Dates: 27 March to 20 June 2021

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