Joseph Beuys


BASTIAN is pleased to present Joseph Beuys: Important Sculptures from the 1950s, running from 20 September – 16 November 2019. Exhibited for the first time in the UK, five unique sculptures from the 1950s by Beuys are shown alongside documentary photographs, offering a rare opportunity to discover significant early works of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

Presenting work from the time when Beuys had just found his own artistic language based on a deep comprehension of the inner logic of mythology, the exhibition bears witness to the artist’s constant use of mythical references to understand an old spiritual world and its role in modern life. In his drawings and sculptures Beuys documented his ‘leitmotiv’, the path of transformation from ‘nature to culture’ in our civilisation. A wanderer between worlds, he became an artist/anthropologist, a shaman interested in natural phenomena, psychological processes and archetypal early-Christian motifs. In his visions, he imagined a modern world that would recognise the importance of our ancient spiritual spheres, as visible in the language of his work.

At BASTIAN, a sculpture reflecting a process of transformation can be seen in Beuys’ 1952-53 work The Couple: two bodies, a woman and a man, are laid out next to each other on a bare stone base, encased within a glass vitrine. At first evoking a feeling of infinite peace, the viewer then notices a deep cut in the woman’s throat - suggesting the idea that Sleep and Death are interconnected, as described in Homer’s Odyssey. In Beuys’ work, however, both bodies, passing from sleep to death, represent the intact state of mind and soul.

Since his death in 1986, Beuys has been the subject of a number of major exhibitions in the UK and internationally, including Tate Modern (London), De La Warr Pavilion (Bexhill on Sea), National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Moscow Museum of Modern Art (Moscow), and Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin).

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