joseph beuys born in 1921 in Krefeld, raised in Kleve, died in 1986 in Düsseldorf
joseph beuys was a draughtsman, sculptor, action and installation artist, teacher, politician and activist. along with marcel duchamp, john cage and andy warhol he is widely considered one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. he fundamentally altered the nature, materiality, language, boundaries and tasks of art. in his practice – universal in its scope – beuys explored questions pertaining to humanism, social philosophy and anthropology. his experiences as a soldier in world war ii had a profound influence on the evolution of his practice, which sought to bring about a radical democratisation of society. from 1964 onwards he no longer distinguished between his biography and his artwork, having come to view his life as material to be sculpted. this model became the point of departure for his theory of social sculpture, which culminated in 1982 with beuys’s documenta contribution »7000 oaks«. now as then beuys exerts a palpable influence upon artistic and political discourse.