The Artist Birthday Series

Joseph Beuys

Eva and Joseph Beuys, 1960
Joseph and Eva Beuys, 1966
Bueys with his son Wenzel, 1968
Beuys with his children, Wenzel and Jessyka, 1970

In 1961, he became professor of ‘monumental sculpture’ at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. In 1964, Beuys was brought into the public consciousness after his performance piece at the Technical College Aachen. As part of a festival of new art coinciding with the 20th anniversary of an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, Beuys created a performance or Aktion. The performance was interrupted when one of a group of radical students punched Beuys in the face, breaking his nose. The photograph of the bloodied Beuys with his arm raised, circulated in media around the world.

Joseph Beuys, bloodied after being punched in the face

Beuys’ extensive oeuvre was composed primarily of traditional works (painting, drawing, sculpture and installations), performance, contributions to the theory of art and academic teaching, and sociopolitical activities. One example is the over 10 hour long “Ja Ja Ja Ne Ne Ne” performance. Beuys sat on a stage for over 10 hours saying only the words “Ja ja ja, ne ne ne” (in English “Yes yes yes, no no no”), and was joined by friends who came and went, joining him in his long performance. He said that the idea was based on his overhearing some very old women sitting on a bench one day, their conversation sounding as if it only consisted of the words “ja ja ja, ne ne ne.” A short snippet of that audio here:

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