The exhibition showed, in a rare cross-section spanning of Joseph Beuys' entire career from the 1940s to the 1980s, how his entire work is based on small formats. Beuys made sketches and experiments with materials, and his visual diaries mix observations and classifications in the best scientific sense. Altogether, one gets a glimpse of an artistic creative power that carries beyond the individual drawing.
Louisiana on Paper is a series that the museum dedicates to artists’ work on paper. A series of smaller exhibitions that often call for an immersion in the artist’s creative process or conceptual register. Not least in the case of Joseph Beuys, the exhibition striked a tone different from what one finds in the artist at most museums, where his installations and mythological pieces predominate. But Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) was a draughtsman before he became so much else – sculptor, installation and performance artist, art theorist and teacher, among other things.
C.L. Davids Fond og Samling has supported the exhibition.
A radical meeting between
tradition and avantgarde
Joseph Beuys’ personal life story and his art trace out a process where the time after World War II – he himself participated in the campaign in the east – constitute a kind of brutal resetting of all experience. For Beuys the end of the war became a brand new start, in human as well as artistic respects. The rejection of imagery which parts of post-war German art chose to pursue never became his path.
The historical layer in his art lies not only in references to prehistoric conditions and myths; the history of art itself can also be seen in Beuys’ handling of the various techniques, in his choice of colours and materials. His expression is often reduced to quite simple signs or very few material props, while the image formation is all the more fertile and evocative.
Beuys is at one and the same time a practitioner of ancient crafts and an experimenter. He is both a radical interpreter of tradition and pure avant-garde, and it is in this encounter that the profound originality – and singularity – of his drawings arises.