the problem with beuys
a mentality and reception history of joseph beuys

haus der universität at schadowplatz
15 to 16 oct 2021

please find the full programme here.


the livestream broadcasts can also be viewed subsequently via the following links on youtube:

day 1 – fr, 15 oct

day 2 – sa, 16 oct


»i don't want to diminish the guilt, but i just want to say that this guilt and this feeling of guilt made me think about things intensely; about how to develop a method to work against the actual causes of such catastrophes, to shape something that will in the future will transform such tragic concatenations into positive human cooperation.« joseph beuys, 1980a

in dealing with joseph beuys one cannot help but wonder to what extent he actually achieved the degree of personal and social transformation to which he aspired in his artistic practice. the complex oeuvre of beuys as well as its controversial reception show that this is not any easy question to answer. can his work be understood as a form of coming to terms with history, as an attempt at transformation? or was beuys, as the art historian benjamin buchloh argued as early as 1980, a master of repression who, with much mysticism and charlatanry, glossed over his national socialist past? did he remain, as beat wyss postulated in 2008 and hans peter riegel in 2013, the eternal hitler youth? a charismatic dazzler who to this day manages to mesmerise people around the world? on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of joseph beuys’ birth, these and other questions concerning the mentality and reception history of the artist will be addressed at an academic conference. beginning with the problem of the artist’s constructed biography, which he saw as an integral part of his extended concept of art, the relationship of the figure beuys to the person beuys will be examined in depth. a strong focus will be on the books, catalogues, exhibitions, media, and people that have contributed to the construction and deconstruction of the artist. the role of copyright, licensing, and censorship will also be explored in a thematic block.


the event was recorded, all presentations and discussion sessions are available here.


organised by eugen blume, catherine nichols, bettina paust, timo skrandies

haus der universität
Event Partner Address
schadowplatz 14
40212 düsseldorf