The street sign reads Joseph-Beuys-Platz 1, giving a first clue to the famous artist. The address marks the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, a palatial building that towers in Krefeld’s city centre. With the busy inner city safely outside the museum’s large entrance doors, visitors can enjoy the traces of Krefeld-born artist Joseph Beuys in the quiet rooms here.
An alchemist’s chaos
Beuys in the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum
A pile of dead honeybees, animal bones, glass bottles, and a felt mat: all kinds of bits and pieces are arranged on a double wooden shelf, along with a work desk and a chair, in the “Barraque D’Dull Odee”, an installation by Joseph Beuys. The title translates as “abandoned location”, with the subtitle referring to the “scientist’s/artist’s workplace” – his workplace. Beuys also coated the frames and panes of the museum room windows with opaque white paint in order to increase the basement feel. This installation is part of the only Beuys room ensemble in North Rhine-Westphalia that can still be experienced unchanged from the way the artist arranged it during his lifetime.
Joseph Beuys was closely connected to the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum since his very earliest artistic work. At the age of 27, he had his first exhibition here, showing two watercolours and the bronze sculpture “Lying Sheep”. In addition to the installation, the Krefeld art museums, consisting of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum and the Haus Lange and Haus Esters museums, own several other works and documents by Beuys that will be presented in various exhibitions during the anniversary year.
Virtually around the corner from the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, the building where Joseph Beuys’ cradle stood can be found on Alexanderplatz. It has the house number five. He briefly lived in the stuccoed house from 1920 together with his parents Johanna and Josef Jakob Beuys before they moved to Kleve. A plaque on the listed building commemorates the artist today.
Highlights along the way
The Haus Lange and Haus Esters museums are worth stopping there along the route as well. These two villas are highlights from the New Building style, designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Krefeld. The route continues across the Egelsberg and past the Elfrather See, through nature along the Lower Rhine and to the Rhine promenade in Uerdingen, where street art on the banks of the Rhine tempts cyclists to get off their bikes and push for a while to enjoy a closer look at the urban works of art.