Life Drawing: Ann Temkin
Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf, 26 November 1965
One of the best-known images of Joseph Beuys presents the artist seated in an art gallery, dressed in jeans and fisherman's vest, cradling a dead rabbit in his arms. Beuys's trademark felt hat, synonymous with the artist himself, is missing; instead his head is coated with honey and gold leaf. Behind the artist a group of large drawings hangs on the wall, their thin lines almost invisible in the photograph. The year is 1965, and the setting is the action How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, which Beuys performed at the opening of his first exhibition at the Galerie Schmela in Diisseldorf. The pictures in question are Beuys's own drawings, crudely framed and densely hung.
This striking photograph exemplifies the place of drawings in Beuys's work: always in the background, they provided an essential basso continuo to his other work. Autonomous objects in themselves, they are an inextricable part of the Gesamtkunstwerk of Beuys's life, teaching, performance, sculpture, and political activism. The total number of Beuys's drawings is unknown, but it is generally agreed to exceed ten thousand sheets. Beuys has been described by those who knew him as constantly drawing; he drew while traveling, while watching TV,while in private discussion, while in performance. Beuys's attitude toward drawing implied it to be as intrinsic to him as breathing.
The photograph of Beuys and the hare demonstrates rupture as well as continuity. Beuys's performance at the Galerie Schmela marked the conspicuous beginning of the second half of a four-decade career. During the next few years Beuys emerged as a leader in an international vanguard convinced that art-making could not be separated from the sociopolitical context in which it occurred. Paradoxically, the moment at which Beuys's work began to be embraced by galleries and museums was the point when that work (and that of a new generation of artists throughout Europe and the United States) began to challenge the authority vested in such institutions. Innovations in medium and structure signaled rejection of modernist ideas of art's permanence, transcendence, and form itself.
The pictures that Beuys "explained" to the hare were, by that point, a sort of work that engaged him far less powerfully than previously. Drawing had been Beuys's major preoccupation throughout the 1950s; during the mid-1960s his drawing practice markedly shifted to become a vital component of the performance and activism that characterized his next decades. Yet Beuys always insisted that those early pictures contained the seeds of his later use of drawing as a vehicle for social change.
Beuys's rhetoric with regard to his early drawings was remarkably consistent over the years in the course of innumerable interviews. He referred to them as the source of all his ideas, and as catalysts to his work in all mediums. Beuys made this assertion in respect to drawings that appear to be self-sufficient "presentation drawings" as well as to those that seem to be note-like jottings. The importance that Beuys attributed to his drawings is consistent with the autobiographical voice of his work as a whole; drawings traditionally are regarded as the work most intimately connected to the artist, as is implicitly acknowledged when scholars examine a sketch book much as one would a diary, or use drawing as a key tool of connoisseurship. Beuys's estimation of drawing relates both to the medium's distinguished place in the German artistic tradition, and to its importance in the line of modernism —stretch ing from Marcel Duchamp and Dada to contemporary conceptualists —that valorizes idea rather than masterpiece.
Beuys was extraordinarily voluble during the interviews and lectures that filled the last two decades of his life, as critics, collectors, journalists, and curators sought explanations of his work and ideas. The gathered pages of published and unpublished interviews would run into the thousands, not including the innumerable hours he spent talking in the classroom, following an action, or at an exhibition. Only in extremely rare cases, however, did Beuys directly address the subject of the art he made. While he was willing to speak volumes on his theories of art and society, he displayed great reticence when it came to the matter of his art objects.
A valuable description of Beuys's drawing exists in the form of a telephone conversation in 1974 with the art critic and historian Caroline Tisdall on the occasion of the exhibition of his drawings entitled The secret block for a secret person in Ireland. This "conversation" was transcribed in the catalogue published by the Oxford Museum of Modern Art. The text demonstrates Beuys's frequent use of the tele phone to express the idea of communication, but it also rather coyly plays down the seriousness of the exchange, placing it on the level of a chat rather than a lecture. Beuys's pleased conclusion to the published version of the "conversation" was: "See we have talked for two hours and not said one word about art."
Beuys's language of drawing is open to enormously rich possibilities of interpretation. The process of separating the important strands that inform his work — alchemy, the Christian tradition, anthroposophy, folklore, literature, and the history of science —reveals the extraordinary breadth of the thinking that underlay the methods of Beuys's art. Beuys's drawings invite individual reading to a degree unique in the work of his contemporaries. Here, however, the place of drawing will be situated within Beuys's career as a whole. Through a study of his drawings, one follows Beuys from his position as an isolated outsider, to that of the avant-garde teacher and performer, to the "social sculptor" intent on worldwide reform. Over the course of four decades, Beuys's drawing moved from the sketchbook page to the blackboard, from private to public; the studio and the gallery were replaced by the street, art fairs, magazines, and television. The lone dead hare metamorphosed into thousands of students, collectors, activists, artists, and tourists watching and listening to Beuys explain his vision.
Beuys's drawings, like his entire oeuvre, participated in the formation of the artist's identity. Beuys has been suspected, with Andy Warhol, of being more noteworthy as a celebrity than an artist, but that judgment ignores the fact that Beuys's construction and presentation of self occurred inside his work rather than outside of it. His life and work have an intrinsic and reciprocal relation in which priority is undefinable: the artist "Beuys" is as much a product of the work he created as that work is a product of "Beuys." The unique conflation of life and art expressed in that signature became the vehicle through which his work found its voice, and through which it continues to speak today.
(Stoop) if you are abcedminded, to this daybook, what curios of signs (please stoop), in this allaphbed! Can you rede (since Weand Thou had it out already) its world? (James Joyce, Finnegans Wake)
Beuys's unusually long formative period prior to recognition as a professor and an artist in the early 1960s evolved through the medium of drawing. A vast body of work on paper pre-existed the emergence of the public figure who came to be known as "Beuys"; a recent exhibition of the early drawings was aptly entitled "Beuys before Beuys." The painfully precise and delicate lines of these mysterious drawings convey Beuys's search for an alternative language, his escape from "the usurpation of language through culture development and rationality." The alingual communication he advocated with the hare in his arms can be seen as the original objective of the drawings themselves. Beuys's initial interest in art had its source in the question of language. Beuys listed in his Life Course/Work Course for 1950 "Beuys reads 'Finnegans Wake' in 'Haus Wylermeer'" (a cultural center near Kleve). Beuys singled out a book that expanded the limits the English language had posed for its author (Joyce had informed skeptical friends that he was at the end of English and that created a rich network of multilingual puns to provide a new vocabulary. Joyce's revolutionary concept of language assured him a place in the pantheon of personal heroes from various centuries and disciplines whose biographies Beuys artfully braided into his own through out his life.
After Beuys left the Diisseldorf Academy in 1951, he commenced a period of isolation that resulted in one of the most remarkable outpourings of drawing in this century. Beuys spent close to a decade elaborating a personal idiom, doing so almost entirely in the medium of drawing. Setting aside the functionalism of academic training, he sought in his drawing practice an avenue to other realms of the spirit. Working in solitude in Diisseldorf, Beuys drew prodigiously: thousands of works on paper in oil, watercolor, and ink and pencil record the themes and ideas he was investigating. The intensity with which Beuys worked during these years finds few equivalents in the art of his predecessors. The analogies are to periods of crisis; one recalls, for example, Paul Klee's last year of work, achieved both despite and because of physical and spiritual agony. For Beuys these years were a therapeutic episode; in fact, he was administering to himself what in 1964 he would call the "Art Pill," which by then he directed at the healing of society as a whole. Beuys later referred to the decade of the 1950s as a long period of "preparation," evoking the mandatory period of purification for holy figures in many religious orders as well as tribal cultures. John Cage once stated that art must serve as self-alteration rather than self-expression; this process might best describe Beuys's explorations during the 1950s. Like the burrowing hare, the artist went underground.
Beuys had been drawing since boyhood. Landscape near Rindern, 1936, one of the few surviving watercolors he made during high school, faithfully portrays the flat, spare landscape of the Lower Rhine area. Beuys continued to draw during the war, and as a student at the Diisseldorf Academy, he adapted his work to the idiom of his professor, Ewald Matare. Matare's artistic language reconciled abstract form and naturalistic figure, and his students followed his example in sketches of plants and animals structured in geometric sections. The small wooden and bronze animal sculptures made in class share the simply articulated forms of these studies. Matare's sensitivity to any material's inherent qualities was one of his more important lessons for Beuys, as can be seen in remarkably textural drawings such as Sheep Skeleton, of 1949.
Beuys's earliest drawings also made direct use of Christian symbolism, which in more subtle ways would permeate his work throughout his life. Drawings from the years 1948 to 1951 include many renderings of the Pieta, the Crucifixion, the Man of Sorrows, and the Lamentation. These belong more to a process of private exploration than classroom mandate. Beuys later described works such as these as "small attempts" to approach the spiritual realm in terms of traditional motifs. In many of the drawings Beuys sought to integrate Christian imagery into a broader context, setting the religious element in a cosmic, nature-based frame recalling the pantheism of German Romanticism. The drawings are contemporary with many small crosses he sculpted in wood and bronze, reminiscent of ancient relics, which thereby add a pagan aspect to a Christian context. For example, the bronze Sun Cross, of 1947-48, points to the ancient significance of the cross as a sun symbol, as it conflates the crown of thorns around Christ's head with the form of a sunburst.
During his years at the Diisseldorf Academy, Beuys and several fellow-students developed an intense interest in the interpretation of Christianity espoused by Rudolf Steiner. Beuys adopted from the anthroposophist what he later termed "the fundamental anthropological notion of the human being . . . the human being as a being that has a thoroughly earthly character and yet cannot be described without a transcendental dimension." Steiner's teaching on the unity of the spiritual world with the physical world directly influenced Beuys's imagery, as did his emphasis on the event of Christ's Resurrection as the pivotal moment in man's spiritual history. Beuys's delicately penciled Cross of 1950, corresponding to the bronze Throwing Cross of 1949-52, imparts to the cross the quality of a living thing as it conflates monument and blossoming plant; the cross implicitly signifies the transformation and hope that follow suffering.
The spiritual quest manifest in these drawings continued into the decade of work after Beuys left the academy in 1951. Drawing became the vehicle for that search and, at the same time, a way of life. The countless pages, ranging from simple writing paper to small sketchbooks to torn sheets of newsprint, testify to one large work in progress. There is a strong dichotomy between the narrowly defined range of key themes, such as the female figure and the landscape, and the mesmerizing variety of renditions that continually renewed the encounter between the artist and the page. This introspection differentiated Beuys's work from the art of the day, and his drawings bear little resemblance to contemporary German artists' echoes of Expressionism or experiments in abstraction. The archaic motifs and the drawing style maintain a powerful, if puzzling, anachronism. Yet Beuys's desire to step out of time and place reflects his position in a context that offered no real sense of either. During the 1950s German culture had yet to recover its foothold from more than a decade of Nazi dictate; German identity was being questioned, as collective ambivalence over the recent past effectively blocked access to an older tradition.
Internationally, too, the postwar years sent scores of artists seeking models that offered an alternative to contemporary bourgeois culture. Abstract Expressionists in the United States turned from shattered illusions to the realm of primitive myth. The "anti-cultural position" of the Frenchman Jean Dubuffet condemned a Western culture too fond of analysis and argued for painting that could "imbue men with new myths and new mystiques . . . ." Beuys's therapeutic ambition was distinct, nonetheless, in its specific investigation of the roots of a poisoned Germanic tradition. His effort to transcend the present excavated a vision of the past he would later use with the aim of changing the future.
The female figure pervades Beuys's drawings of the 1950s: the world of these drawings is one almost empty of men. The many artists who portrayed women so constantly —Auguste Rodin, Gustav Klimt, Alberto Giacometti, to name three who interested Beuys — had differing contexts for their obsessions. In Beuys's case, the insistent representation of the female figure over the course of a decade in hundreds of sheets suggests a personal search for the qualities embodied in the traditional feminine archetype. As a ruined Germany initiated its "economic miracle," Beuys sought recovery in the opposite direction. Setting himself up as an outsider to society —a patriarchal society —this litany of women points toward an alternative: an ease among the spirits and nature, at far remove from civilization.
Throughout the 1950s Beuys's drawings of women grew more technically sophisticated and diverse in mood, but the pattern was established with the simple figures of the late 1940s. Most often, the woman represented is isolated on the page, self- absorbed and self-contained. The depictions of the 1950s were steeped in tradition, as witnessed by several images of the theme of Death and the Maiden. The figure is seldom individualized, even in the case of an occasional portrait (minimally identified by initials), or an historic or mythic figure such as Judith or Diana. Generally, the features of the face are unimportant, and sometimes the head is not represented at all, such as in Nude, of 1954-55, where the woman's shoulders meet the top of the page. More notable is the sculptural carriage, an acrobatic reach, or a graceful gesture. The placement on the page is the most dramatic aspect of these quiet works, as the figure hovers in a void or balances provocatively at the edge.
Beuys's images present an essentialist view of woman as a sign for the natural world, and, at the same time, the realm of the spirit. Whether seer or mother, priestess or acrobat, she occupies the axis opposite from intellect and culture. Haunting images such as Woman Warding Off, 1952, perpetuate the ancient concept of woman's connection to the irrational and immaterial. Attention focuses on the woman's staring eyes (covered by hands in the fainter visage hovering above), while a tiny spiral (which Beuys considered a "hearing form" suggests his equal interest in the ear as an organ of perception. The extraordinary perceptive powers Beuys ascribed to his women set them in the tradition of the ancient sibyls, who preserved the link to the gods long lost by the general community. In certain nomadic societies, male shamans wore women's clothing in order to establish contact with the spirits. Carl Jung discussed such practices as demonstrations of the anima, the feminine personification of man's unconscious. Jung's portrayal of the anima principle as a "radio" to man's unconscious anticipates Beuys's later description of himself as a sender or a transmitter, the intermediary between the spiritual and earthly worlds. Beuys would articulate this feminine capacity in later works such as the multiple of 1968 entitled Intuition —a recommendation in the form of a word penciled on a wooden box.
Simultaneously, Beuys's female archetype claimed a connection to the earth, an association with seasonal cycles and growth. Beuys's drawings of the 1950s include many images of pregnant women and women menstruating or giving birth. Beuys also focused on the state of motherhood, in straightforward pictures of mother and child as well as in more mysterious works such as the drawing Mother with Child, in which two figures loom over a railway landscape, cradling a child between them. Conversely, women are sometimes depicted as strong warriors sporting spears or shields. Many, such as Representation with Critical (-) Objects, 1957, portray women with strange objects in the forms of filters, rolls, or wedges that anticipate Beuys's sculptural forms of the 1960s. The women's mobility —spiritual as well as physical —is implied by the many wearers of skates or snowshoes, or more exotically, a female astronaut.
Beuys extended the idea of the natural woman in drawings such as Woman Sitting on the Ground, 1952, in which women assume almost animal-like positions. Sometimes the visual pun is explicit, as in Bat, 1958, where the spread legs of the woman become wings. Beuys's many depictions of women as basket-makers or carriers signal their own biological capacities as vessels. Indeed, the women often appear as vessels, their graceful forms drawn as those of an amphora, or the area of the womb explicitly depicted as a cavity.
The figuration of the female provided Beuys with a vessel for images of otherness, as it had for generations of male artists before him. In this respect, a solidly traditional cultural viewpoint coexisted with the radical aspects of his work. Woman already offers a representation of an Other, from a male point of view. This duality is replayed in the female's own dual characterization, at once ethereal and/or natural. Predecessors such as Paul Gauguin or the German Expressionists had represented women as fleshly creatures set within the faraway culture whose otherness they embodied. Beuys's vision pointed north, but whereas he occasionally identified a figure as Eskimo or Tatar, his women generally remain immaterial, often almost ghostly. The quality of absence on these pages gives them their poignancy as well as their capacity to function as signs; the lack of solidity, of identity, and of setting is filled by femaleness.
Beuys's exploration of medium is the most important vehicle for his emphasis on the organic aspect of woman. The female figures are evoked in many mediums, ranging from all sorts of pencil line (faint silhouettes, intense networks of nervous scratches, exquisitely shaded plastic volumes) to almost transparent watercolor and thickly painted oils. At the end of the 1940s, Beuys painted the female figure in delicate pinks or pale green watercolor evocative of Rodin's example. Soon thereafter Beuys derived the use of what was probably an iron compound in solution often referred to as Beize, the German word meaning stain or corrosive, and the general term for furniture wood stain.
Beuys reserved this medium primarily for depictions of women and girls, and used it for the rest of the decade. The iron medium refers to the female in substance as well as in form and relates closely to the hare's blood with which Beuys also worked occasionally, as in Color Picture , of 1958. Depending on the intensity with which it is concentrated on the page, Beize produced colors varying from a warm honey to a rich red brown. Beuys often used a thin onion-skin paper for works painted with Beize, so that a pronounced puckering surrounds the saturated area. The solution permitted Beuys a rich exploitation of positive/negative space in delineating the human body. In works such as Untitled (Salamander I), 1958, the medium impregnates the sheet and pools in sculptural ponds of varying shades. Saturated with this solution, even more than in Beuys's watercolors, the page itself becomes a vessel for the liquid medium.
The female figure suggested for Beuys a bridge between the earthly and unearthly worlds. The animals that populate scores of his drawings of the 1950s function in the same way. In Matare's classes at the Diisseldorf Academy, Beuys had drawn animals in the manner of his instructor, but after 1951 both his iconography and idiom underwent a dramatic shift. The local world of farm animals such as sheep shifted to the realm of Northern legend, while strictly geometric analysis of form gave way to individual freehand drawing. Beuys elaborated a specific menagerie of swans, stags, elk, and bees, all dense in symbolic meaning, Germanic as well as Celtic, Christian, or Greco-Roman. These are animals of legend and folktale; although they occupied the Northern landscape, it is their mythical powers more than their physical presence that fill these drawings. Beuys described these animals as "figures which pass freely from one level of existence to another, which represent the incarnation of the soul or the earthly form of spiritual beings with access to other regions . . . ," The reference could describe Beuys's hopeful vision of himself at that moment; indeed, it defines the aspirations of the Romantic artist from Caspar David Friedrich to Wassily Kandinsky to Clyfford Still. Friedrich 's paintings of figures standing on mountaintops explicitly posit the artist as mediator between the earthly and otherworldly; the prevalence of mountain imagery in Kandinsky's and Beuys's work echoes that shamanistic or priestly identification. And just as animals provide shamans with their attributes, so they serve an artist who casts himself as such a mediator.
The animal most closely identified with Beuys is the stag, a traditional emblem of the Northern forest and an omnipresent creature in German legend. In Beuys's work the stag assumes particular meaning as a spiritual being ("accompanier of the soul" a status shared in many folk and religious traditions. In Celtic legend, for example, the stag is the spirit guide, and in Christian tradition, a symbol of the crucified Christ. The stag is a conventional symbol of masculine power, but it also has a feminine aspect as a symbol of fertility, with antlers that are renewed each late autumn or winter and fall off blood-red every spring. The figures in drawings such as Stag, 1955, have a princely mien and yet the exquisite grace of feminine beauty. The stag appears in scores of Beuys's drawings of the 1950s, in a wide variety of pictorial formats. In many pencil drawings the animal is formed by a thin and fairytale line, while in others the stag is conjured out of thick pencil that has the roughness of charcoal.
Beuys's stags or elks often assume a martyred aspect and appear wounded or as skeletons. These lonely scenes are easily read as tales of spiritual defeat; Beuys discussed the death of the stag in his drawings as "the result of violation and misperception." Such scenes relate to the many images of the skull in Beuys's work of the mid-1950s. Whether modelled in pale watercolor or detailed in networks of radiating pencil lines, the skull suggests hardened thought —necessarily softened with honey in order to "explain pictures to a dead hare". Often shown on an "ur-sled", the skull is presented as an intermediate stage in existence, passing from material death to spiritual rebirth.
Beuys commemorated the death of the stag, in particular, in a number of striking pencil drawings from the 1950s called "stag monuments." These images all present a large sculptural form whose arching pyramidal shape loosely echoes a stag's skull, the volume defined by fine striations. The stag monument remained an important element in Beuys's symbolic landscape throughout the rest of his career —in 1978 he confessed it to be "still in his head" —and his sculpture Lightning with Stag in Its Glare, 1958-85, endures as its final grand memorial.
Beuys's most personal totem is the swan, the traditional symbol of his native town of Kleve. To this day a Swan Tower crowns the town's center, honoring the legend of the swan who delivered the knight Lohengrin to the daughter of the Duke of Kleve. In countless forms, the swan occupies a central place in Norse and Teutonic myth, legend, and folktale —generally as a feminine force linking the realms of life and death. The swan first appeared in Beuys's drawings in quite naturalistic guises and thereafter in far more abstract drawings where a fluid sweep of line alludes to the grace of the bird and the ripples of a lake.
Beuys's expansive, lush line, executed variously in lead or colored pencil or inks, is at its best in a family of works known as "From the Intelligence of Swans". Again, Beuys's title refers to the realm of knowledge that lies beyond simple human intellect. The swan's "intelligence" implies its connection to the other world (heralded in the Lohengrin legend as well as in the common notion of the "swan song," a swan's announcement that it is to die). A mediator between different realms, like the stag, it also mediates between the sexes: its essentially feminine aspect is united with a phallic neck. The swan embodies the unity of the female and male capacities in a single being, the integration of physical prowess and psychic powers.
"From the Life of the Bees" is a group of works parallel to that of "From the Intelligence of Swans." Neither is a series as such; both groups include drawings made over a long span of time, with a wide variety of mediums and sup ports. While the bee did not share the local specificity that the swan had for Beuys, it is a creature that has attracted fascination for centuries and was considered divine in many ancient cultures. Beuys's title repeats that of the well-known book The Life of the Bee, written by Maurice Maeterlinck in 1901, but Beuys's more direct inspiration was probably his reading of Rudolf Steiner's lecture "Uber die Biene," given in Dornach in 1923. Steiner emphasized the importance of the bee's process of forming solid geometric shapes (the honeycombs of six-sided cells) from amorphous material (the bee's waxy secretions), a metamorphosis he saw as parallel to those that take place continually in the individual human body as well as in the earth itself. "From the Intelligence of Swans" displays the virtuosity of line in Beuys's drawings of the 1950s; "From the Life of the Bees" presents the role of substance. While draw ings such as the Queenbee (For Bronze-Sculpture) , 1958 , employ a regal gold, most of the bee drawings are made in the honey-colored Beize solution that Beuys used for his female figures. The connection recalls the ancient identification between the queen bee and Venus, and several of Beuys's early sculptures and drawings conflate the form of the bee and woman, such as the tiny Woman, of 1957. The honey color and oozy quality of the Beize solution medium evoke what Beuys called the "warm" character of the liquid the bees produce and transform into a geometric structure.
This counterpoint between "warmth" and "cold," between organic amorphousness and geometric form, provided the foundation of what would become, by the end of 30 the 1950s, Beuys's theory of sculpture. His elaboration of the process of metamorphosis has as its exemplar the activity of the bee, and the honeycomb offers a natural model for Beuys's "fat corner," the sculptural form that integrates fluidity and geometry. The bee's waxy secretion has a chemical composition similar to that of fat, and the long history of wax sculpture was an important antecedent to Beuys's seemingly radical choice of medium.
Beuys was well within tradition when he used the bee as a basis not only for sculpture but for social sculpture. The bee's advanced social organization —long praised as a model of perfect order and industry by societies ranging from the medieval Catholic church to nineteenth-century Utopias —provided a pattern for a social sculpture wherein individuals are integrally linked in self-government. Even more directly than the drawings of animal or female figures, the sheets on the theme "From the Life of the Bees" hint at Beuys's transformation of a visual motif into a conceptual system and of a personal vision into a universal one.
The animals and figures in Beuys's drawings of the 1950s inhabit an undefined region, affixed neither to heaven nor earth. Similarly, the landscapes he painted and drew during this time were curiously placeless. While Beuys's early watercolors mir ror his native countryside of Northern Germany, and works of the 1940s document the places he saw during the war, the landscapes of the 1950s rarely portray a spe cificview. These landscapes have more to do with process than with place, as they pictorialize the drama of creation and regeneration. Beuys's subjects —glaciers and volcanoes, waterfalls and mountains —chart the formation of the earth in primeval times and its continuing evolution. They represent the carving of space and the shaping of land that occurs over the ages. Rarely are there inhabitants or other evidence of civilization; instead, the earth appears as a sculptural site that natural processes endlessly create. Beuys often made this concept literal in drawings such as Warmth-Sculpture in the Mountains (Double), 1956, in which he placed "sculptures" within the landscape.
The interchange between solidity and fluidity that occurs during these earthly processes supplies the poignancy of the sensuous watercolors Beuys painted during his months at the van der Grinten farm in 1957. In all of these drawings —themselves solid objects —the vitality of water is foremost, whether mixed with pigment or present in such forms as tea or berry juice, which Beuys sometimes used as mediums. Certain drawings depict water processes specifically, as in Two Reflections on the Water, while a work such as Granite takes as its subject a hard crys talline substance that originated as molten liquid. Both in subject and technique, Granite and a host of works like it explore what Jean-Paul Sartre described as "the secret liquid quality in solids," evoked in Grimm's tale about a tailor who pretends 31 to draw water from a stone, using a piece of cheese to accomplish the trick.
Beuys's watercolors explore the theme of creation and metamorphosis. The cyclical nature of life (Joyce's Finn again awaking) and the pattern of birth and rebirth underlay Beuys's spiritual vision. And whereas Beuys was not engaged in confessional drawing, these subjects reflected Beuys's unmistakable response to his current situation. The drawings posit the re-creation of a country — both a landscape and a culture —that had undergone a collective death. They document the creation of an artist who needed to be invented and forecast an art whose very subject was to be creativity.
By the end of the 1950s this art began to take form in what Beuys described as a purposeful integration of the realms of science and art. Naming as his models the universal thinkers Leonardo, Paracelsus, and Goethe, Beuys sought to merge the paths of spiritual, intellectual, and artistic research. He later remarked that by 1958 he had begun to be convinced "that the two terms, art and science, are diametrically opposed in the development of thought of the Occident, and because of this fact, a dissolution of this polarity of perception had to be looked for."
The initial sign of this search was the variety of scientific allusions in Beuys's pictorial language. Beuys was widely read in science, dating back to his early plans for a career in that field, and his imagery at the end of the 1950s reflects this interest. Beuys's plaster Aggregate of 1957, which was cast later in bronze for works such as Double Aggregate , 1958-69, parallels drawings that depict electrical apparatus such as batteries and inductors.
The theory of sculpture that Beuys developed at exactly this time also resembled a scientific formula: the "warmth theory" recognized that heating and cooling were the active factors in changing mass and proposed this thermal axis as the basis for the making of sculpture. It doubled as a formulation for the thinking process — opposing dry, dead, "cold" thought with fluid, living, "warm" intuition. This oscillation is the basis of countless drawings made between 1958 and 1961, many of which are Beuys's most powerfully mysterious images on paper. In these graphic works that have no definable subject and yet are far from abstract, the energy of Beuys's line was more highly charged than ever before.
Relatively few pencil drawings from this period now exist as autonomous works. Among the most elaborate is the drawing entitled Currents , 1961, in which arrows pointing up and down chart the energy forces within a complex tangle of ducts, channels, and waves drawn on a long, narrow sheet of tissue-thin paper. More typically, Beuys worked in sketchbooks and preserved in distinct masses the draw ings that explore his theory of sculpture. The four sketchbooks collectively entitled Projekt Westmensch, begun in 1958 and continued through the early 1960s, include pencil drawings and watercolors as well as text notations. Obviously a reservoir of plans and ideas, these books were preserved intact by the artist and exhibited only during his museum retrospective at Monchengladbach in 1967.
Many of the drawings of the late 1950s made on loose sheets or torn from sketch books were incorporated into the drawing project The secret block for a secret person in Ireland. Assembled and titled in 1974, the block consists of over four hundred drawings that Beuys said he had set aside over the years in order to form a totality. With three exceptions, the titles of the fifty-five drawings from 1958 and 1959 in The secret block are designated only by a line and a question mark (as Beuys told Caroline Tisdall, "Art is at its most effective and scientific when expressed with a question mark." They have as strong a sense of narrative content as his earlier landscapes —Beuys's collectors recall how the artist liked to "narrate" his early drawings, telling the story of each as he looked at them —but their iconography is less closely tied to existing tradition. The energy fields in these drawings conceptualize the sense of process and metamorphosis detailed in the earlier drawings.
The same enigmatic pictorial language dominates a series of six sketchbooks, known as the Ulysses sketchbooks, that Beuys worked on between 1959 and 1961. These are indicated in the Life Course/Work Course by the statement for 1961 that "Beuys adds two chapters to 'Ulysses' at James Joyce's request." This elliptical refer ence indicates their profound importance to Beuys. The sketchbooks contain pages and pages of intensely worked drawings in pencil, crayon, and watercolor; containing 346 drawings altogether, they present an encyclopedic view of the artist's for mal and thematic vocabulary. The invention of language was again on Beuys's mind, and the drawings are the culmination of the long odyssey he made during the previous decade. The signs and systems represented in these drawings defy verbal translation, yet they create a universe that is in itself somehow perfectly readable. In dense images full of arrows, canals, probes, and antennae, Beuys evoked natural processes of circulation, growth, and transformation. As one looks through the six sketchbooks, a variety of voices and moods arises in drawings more or less intense or quiet, all united in a flow that has no particular start or stop. The vitality of the line throughout the books attains a haunting level, as each point and stroke virtually moves on the page. Beuys understood Joyce's Ulysses as a spiritual book, and it is significant that he claimed it as a foundation for the drawings that gave pictorial form to the concepts of his warmth theory. He firmly maintained that his scientific pretensions were geared toward spiritual or evolutionary warmth, rather than anything actually rep resenting a technically scientific brand of art. In so doing Beuys reclaimed an idea with which he felt the twentieth century had lost touch: that the professional work of science, or art, was initially and ultimately a spiritual undertaking.
Interviewer: How do you relate to art, in general?
Beuys: My relationship with art is good. Likewise with anti-art.
Beuys's emergence from a decade of self-declared "preparation" roughly coincided with his appointment to teach at the Diisseldorf Academy in 1961. At this time he discovered among the Fluxus artists working in West Germany an all-important laboratory for new forms and ideas. In a few years he would be the nation's most notorious artist, operating in a whirl of students, fellow-artists, journalists, and slightly later, collectors. Beuys had neither the need nor the time to give drawing the role it had during the 1950s, but it by no means disappeared as a central aspect of his practice.
This turning point is best witnessed by the appearance of the medium Braunkreuz (brown cross) in Beuys's drawings at the start of the decade. So named by Beuys, it is an opaque reddish-brown paint, varying considerably in tonality and texture in his different drawings. The use of Braunkreuz presents a distinctive change in the draw ings, replacing introversion with an assertive voice in works often larger in dimension and more monumental in scale than those of the 1950s. From this point on, Beuys's drawing cannot be considered apart from the rest of his body of work. His art also began to resemble physically the contemporaneous work of German col leagues as well as American and European artists, and to engage ideas current among the avant-garde. Trespassing borders between drawing, sculpture, performance, and multiples, Braunkreuz provided an important route to Beuys's disintegration of conventional object categories. Sometimes called "Beuys-brown," Braunkreuz came to function, like fat and felt, as an autographic medium linking life and art.
Immediately, the word Braunkreuz signals Beuys's keen sensitivity to language and his penchant for word play. A cross in itself, the word is an intersection of two independent elements that creates a third whole. The combination of the words brown and cross calls to mind a number of varied, even contradictory, associations. Red Cross (Rote-Kreuz ), the international relief agency for the wounded or sick, is per haps the most obvious. Braunkreuz also echoes the name of Christian Rosenkreuz, the supposed fifteenth-century mystic for whom the Rosicrucian sect was named. Apart from the doctrines of the Rosicrucians, early Christian traditions associate the rose with the blood of Christ and with the secrets of the cross in general.
Beuys's substitution of "brown" for "rose" or "red," however, renders a complex transformation. The word Braunkreuz , like the appearance of fat in Beuys's work, plays ambiguously on the awareness of Nazi history and its evocations of genocide. Brown was the color adopted by the Nazis, evidenced in such terms as Braunhemd (Brownshirt), the unofficial name for Hitler's storm troopers. "Brown" became a casual adjective to describe anything Nazi —today still used in references to a braun Vergangenbeit (brown past).
The allusion to Nazism and World War II is reinforced by the militaristic associa tions the cross holds in Germany alongside its religious symbolism. The Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz) is a military medal for valor, first awarded by Prussia in the Napoleonic Wars and reissued by the German government during this century's two world wars. The same cross marked the vehicles of the German armed forces in the two world wars and is used in a modified form by the Bundeswebr of the Federal Republic today. Morever, the symbol of the swastika, adopted by the Nazis in 1935, ls a known in German as the Hakenkreuz (hooked cross). Such associations can continue further: it is a short step to Gelbkreuz , the German term for mustard gas, used in World War I.
Braunkreuz , then, is a term loaded with powerful references not only to Christianity, the occult, and war or disaster relief, but equally to German militarism and Nazism. This complex constellation of terms —circulating around the concepts of the spirit, the wound and war —removes both the word and the medium Braunkreuz from any fixed interpretation. Beuys's homeopathic concept of art (healing like with like) allows the possibility of a purposeful link with the "brown" vocabulary of Nazism. In his public remarks Beuys never sought to clarify these multiple allusions. On the contrary, the very ambiguity of the interchange of these concepts is a primary element in Beuys's work as a whole.
One cannot look to Beuys's own statements for direct explanation of technical questions regarding Braunkreuz any more than for mention of its references. Indeed, this subject in particular has acquired the air of a house secret, echoing the clandestine nature of Rosicrucian activities. This mystery concerns, first of all, questions about the exact nature of the medium(s) used to achieve the rust-brown color. Beuys termed his Braunkreuz works Olfarbe (oil colors), as distinct from his watercolors and pencil drawings, and never specified further. Commentators have identified Beuys's brown in a variety of ways over the years. Recent laboratory analysis indicates the paint to include commercial rust proofing. The great numbers of drawings made with Braunkreuz reveal a range of slightly different colors; this may result from different practices on Beuys's part (mixing the paint with more oil, for example), or on variations in the specific brand of paint available over the years, as well as varying rates of change in appearance over time.
Braunkreuz can be seen as a culmination of Beuys's interest throughout the 1950s in painting with unusual materials. It demonstrates his preference to treat his mediums as "substances" with independent values rather than as mere coloring agents. While Braunkreuz technically relates to the work in oils Beuys did during the late 1950s, it more generally reflects his fascination for pigments and mediums that were to be found in nature or at the hardware store rather than a specialty art supplier. Specifically, Braunkreuz appears to be a descendant of the Beize solution with which Beuys worked throughout the 1950s, each associated with the element iron. The two share a luminosity that, in the case of Braunkreuz , works in striking counterpoint to the apparent density of the surface.
The early manifestations of this brown substance are essentially paintings on paper. The development from Beize to Braunkreuz is paralleled in the many women painted in rich brown, such as Rubber Doll, 1959, or Mystery of a Love, 1960. More boldly explicit than figures drawn during the 1950s, these women exert the powerful aspect Beuys described as that of "actresses." Beuys was rapidly defining his self-presentation, and his dual roles as teacher and performer contributed to the aptness of the shamanistic metaphor. Lapidary yet mesmerizing images such as that of the powerful Shamaness, 1963, expressed the auratic power of the person at the head of a classroom or on stage.
A good basis for an exploration of the meaning of Braunkreuz is provided by a photograph of Beuys in his studio in Diisseldorf, probably dating from 1962 or 1963. Four thin, flat bundles of folded newspapers hang on the back wall, each covered by two crossing stripes of paint. They hang isolated on the wall like medieval icons or targets. The newspapers on the studio wall are the same sort of bundles that hang on the cupboard for Scene from the Staghunt in the collection of Beuys's works now on view at the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. Both the photo graph and the sculpture represent workplace situations. The Darmstadt Staghunt is a simple, tall, open wooden cabinet, the contents of which present the accumulation of material in the laboratory/studio: wires, old bottles, test tubes, funnels, mousetrap, metronome, twine, trash, tools, paint tubes, little toys, first-aid items, fire extinguisher, and assorted debris (a miscellany evoked in the typescript and Braunkreuz drawing of 1961, Scene from the Staghunt. Hanging in front of the cabinet are fifteen bundles of newspaper (dating from 1963), all wrapped with twine in a cross shape, painted over with brown lines about one inch thick, formally echoing the compartments of the cabinet.
As the newspapers hang along the cabinet's open front, they have the decided presence of something more than ornaments. A clue to their role can be found in a number of small objects that Beuys called "batteries," simple bundles of newspapers like those seen hanging on his wall in the photograph mentioned above. The "batteries" bear striking resemblance to contemporary works by Piero Manzoni and Marcel Broodthaers, among other artists concurrently exploring the arena of assemblage. The electrical metaphor, however, is unique to Beuys's work and relates to the artist's theory of sculpture. The friction that results from the accumulated layers of newspaper sheets produces physical warmth, while "psychological" warmth results from the accumulation of the information in those pages. To extend the metaphor, the cord that ties them (overpainted with brown and forming a literal Braunkreuz ) contains that energy and grounds it. Indeed, a work entitled Ground , 1964, joins a small copper wire, which conducts electricity, to the corner of a rectangular sheet covered with Braunkreuz. The earth brown color of the paint provides a double meaning to the function of the paint as a "ground."
Operating in this way, the Braunkreuz newspaper bundles and single sheets form direct counterparts to the Fond sculptures that Beuys made throughout his career. Fond is the German word for base or foundation, and as their name indicates, they form the base of Beuys's overall sculptural project. The Fond series operates on the principle of energy producers and presents, according to Beuys, "the idea of the battery as a reality and a metaphor." In the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt, the visitor encounters in the same room as the Scene from the Staghunt the 1968 work entitled Fond II, two wooden tables thickly coated with copper. An actual foundation on which work can be done or things can be rested, Fond II could be charged at 20,000 volts, transformed through an inductor from a 12-volt battery. When exhibited in a charged state, as it was in two exhibitions before being installed in Darmstadt, the sculpture literally conducted energy.
Later Fond sculptures replaced the use of an actual battery with the repeated layer ing of piles of felt, iron, and copper, which produced warmth in a more figurative manner. In the case of every Fond, the function of the sculpture can be described as the accumulation of warmth to supply the power of transformation of matter, and by extension, of spirit. Beuys called the Fond pieces "static actions" because they rest in one place and yet imply activity. In the same way, one can view the Braunkreuz bundles hung on the front of Staghunt as small motors for a machine, or for human creativity (to use Beuys's word, "evolution") at work in the studio or laboratory.
In Beuys's universe, the role of the warming, sculptural nature of Braunkreuz closely relates to that of felt, an analogy made clear in the many Braunkreuz drawings that evoke large fuzzy masses of that material, as well as in works such as Felt-Action, of 1963, that incorporate into the Braunkreuz drawing an actual felt fragment. Many works sharing the spirit of Braunkreuz employ an opaque gray paint more directly suggestive of felt. These drawings can be beautifully minimal: a work of 1963 entitled For Felt Corners juxtaposes two small triangles, one with a wedge tipped beside it, on the inside covers of an opened sketchbook smudged by footprints. They can also be richly complex: Felt Angle and Nude of the same year, which depicts a human figure beside a sculptural form (a tall, black, angled column), employs hare's blood, milk casein, oil and a collaged piece of film celluloid. These two very different drawings share the doubled structure characteristic of much of Beuys's drawing and sculptural work, paralleling the polar structure of his theory of sculpture. These works also reflect his preference for the triangle (in three dimensions, a tetrahedron or corner), the symbol by which Beuys expressed "form" in his theory of sculpture. "Felt angles" are frequent motifs in the pictorial drawings of the early 1960s, as in Felt Angle and Nude or the eerie Dead Rat, Felt Ridge, Two Black Felt Crosses, Felt Angle, of 1963. Later in the decade, they appear in works such as Notes for an Action, 1967, as representations of the felt angles Beuys would use in performance.
The newspaper "batteries" found in the Scene from the Staghunt are paralleled in many untitled Braunkreuz drawings that are made on sheets of newspaper. These drawings partially mask the surface of the newspaper with Braunkreuz, exposing particular sections of photographs or newsprint. Beuys was extending the Cubist collage tradition, which had been explored by Germans such as Kurt Schwitters and John Heartfield, whereby the "found" photograph or text functions as a key component of the image in content as well as form. In Beuys's case the photographs or texts often refer to scientific or ecological concerns, using clippings taken from sections of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, such as "Natur und Wissenschaft " or u und die Welt." A Braunkreuz work of 1967, for example, reveals headlines linking lsd to leukemia, and reporting an artists' protest against a government-sponsored "morals clause" for films.
The reference to the "brown art" of the Third Reich implicit in Braunkreuz is explicit in a work of 1963 that paints over an advertisement to reveal the letters Pst . . , the German word meaning hush. A series of Nazi propaganda posters had been posted around German cities during the war to warn the populace —pst! —to exercise caution in the interest of national security. Some twenty years later, the word brought up the topic of silence in a new context, questioning the muteness of the modernist avant-garde (the silence for which Beuys challenged Duchamp), as well as the heavily charged issue of past and present German silences.
Beuys also used Braunkreuz as overpaint in more than a dozen works centering on Greta Garbo, employing photographs and photocopies of the film star both as an actress and a retired recluse. A literal extension of the 1950s "actress" fig ures, the Garbo drawings convey the reality of the individual as aura, a reality that Beuys had grasped as well as Warhol. Beuys's characteristic identification with the martyr surely led him to understand Garbo's cool rejection of public life: "People take energy from me, and I want it for pictures." That energy is captured in these reproductions, more real than the actress herself, and it fuels the Braunkreuz objects they compose.
The manifestation of the "brown cross" in Beuys's work during the 1960s extended beyond the literal form of his "batteries" with their crossed cords overpainted in brown. From the beginning of the decade, small painted crosses appear on a variety of objects and drawings; in a sense, these crosses are abbreviations for the polar energy dynamic more fully transmitted by the bundled "batteries." Often the objects on which the brown crosses are painted —letters, lists, drawings —date from years earlier. The basis of the drawing may be printed matter, such as a textbook chart or a magazine advertisement; several brown-crossed drawings employ technical maps and code sheets from Beuys's military service. In the case of these drawings, the information on the page's surface provides the energy of the newsprint "batteries," and the simple brown "seal," the counterpoint.
An important category of brown-crossed drawings includes the work lists that Beuys made throughout his career. These lists are the verbal equivalent of a piece such as Scene from the Staghunt in their accumulation of experience and ideas. The activity of list-making can be traced to Beuys's early studies in natural science and would continue throughout his life. Beuys began to make work lists in quantity at the time of his interest in Fluxus, when he painted over such lists with images or several brown crosses. These lists, such as List with Wolf, 1962, or Washed-Out List, Dou ble Crossed, 1963 , compose an informal inventory of the names, mediums, and dates of Beuys's own drawings. Such an annotated compilation recalls Paul Klee's oeuvre catalogue, a document with which Beuys may have been familiar. Klee's private catalogue served the purpose of record keeping, even as its meticulous- ness attained a form of poetry. Beuys brought the form of the record explicitly into the arena of the works that are its subject, validating the list as an object of art in itself. The lists serve as metonyms for the entirety of Beuys's enterprise in terms of their function as well as their content. All of Beuys's pieces stand as souvenirs of, or probes into, his lifelong Gesamtkunstwerk. As a list signals toward the objects, so an individual object gestures toward the whole of Beuys's career.
Beuys's work-list drawings exemplify the role of the brown cross in Beuys's formulation of Braunkreuz as a personal signature. Whereas the cross operates in terms of Beuys's central metaphor of energy production for the making of art, and the living of life, the choice of the cross as a symbol brings with it inherent spiritual references. The particular significance of the cross within the system of Beuys's theory of sculpture joins with the artist's deep and longstanding interest in its traditional iconographies. One of the key sculptures in which the small brown crosses play an important role is the small Crucifixion now in the collection of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. This work of 1962—63 provides the most direct link between the theme of Braunkreuz and the Crucifixion itself, made apparent in the object's title if not in its immediate appearance. The piece is composed of simple materials that share the junk-like quality evident on the shelves of the Scene from the Staghunt. Like contemporary assemblages by Robert Rauschenberg, the piece's humble elements take up the heritage of Dada found particularly in the work of Kurt Schwitters.
The crude appearance of the Crucifixion belies Beuys's exacting choices for the mate rials, especially the acid-encrusted hospital blood-storage bottles that take the places of Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist. The three squares of newspaper, atop each bottle and in front of the cross, bear close reading; in this respect they, too, are descendants of the newspaper fragments used in Cubist papiers colles, whose texts often seem selected for a point. The text accompanying Mary Magdalene is an engagement notice, suggesting her holy marriage. The excerpt over John includes the word guilt,which alludes to the Baptist's call for repentance and moral purification. The text of the fragment on the central beam is initially more enigmatic: an article from the newspaper's financial pages, it refers to the Zentralbank and the fluctuation of the pound. This text brings to the subject of the Crucifixion the principle of an economy and the circulation of capital therein. With this, Beuys drew a direct connection between the blood implied by the bottles and currency: that is, between the circulatory system of the human and the social bodies. This circulation model stands as the basis of Beuys's concept of the social body, later envisaged in actions and installations such as the Honey Pump at Documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977. Again and again, Beuys proclaimed that "creativity = capital," arguing that man's potential rests on spirit and imagination rather than on money and material assets.
Herein rests the connection to the Christian theme of the Crucifixion, for it is this form of capital that Beuys described as the gift of Christ to man: a mandate to act freely and to assume responsibility for one's own fate. Beuys centered spirituality and, concomitantly, creativity, within the individual. Christian symbolism under scored for him a faith in man's own creative potential, a potential that must replace money as society's concept of capital.
This concept depended heavily on the theories of Rudolf Steiner, with which Beuys had been familiar for over two decades. It was probably through the study of Steiner that Beuys became acquainted with Rosicrucianism, one of the touchstones of Steiner's teachings. Steiner felt that his mission in the twentieth century was to lift esoteric teachings into the reach of common people and to reconcile spiritual insight with the demands of modern life: "The role of Rosicrucian theosophy or occultism is to satisfy the spiritual longings of men and to enable spirit to flow into the daily round of their duties. Rosicrucian theosophy is not there for the salon or for the hermit, but for the whole of human culture."50
It is along this path that Beuys's vision of Christianity came to extend beyond that of the conventional church. Steiner believed that art would succeed where both religion and science had been condemned to failure by their equally narrow systematization. A similar conviction led Beuys away from an art that directly illustrated Christian tradition and motivated him to explore a way to incorporate and transform that tradition. With objects as his "vehicles," Beuys became most interested in using art as an avenue to spiritual and social revitalization. When his theory of sculpture broadened into an "expanded art concept," Beuys spoke of sculpting a society in the same terms as sculpting an object. This idea governed the last twenty years of his life, when Beuys centered his work in a variety of activist organizations and projects. When asked in an interview what he thought was his clearest example of the image of Christ, Beuys's response was "the expanded art concept." 51
In this sense, the idea of the cross acquires meaning as a general symbol of unification. Beuys's vision of social change, like that of many other artists during the 1960s, centered on repairing a divided world and a divided self. The political bisection of Germany exemplified the wide gap between Eastern and Western philosophy, religion, economy, and government. The cross suggested for Beuys the unification of East and West necessary for a healthy society, as much as inner integration was required for a fully realized human being.
The channeling of Beuys's spiritual ideas into the monochrome visual system of Braunkreuz was as much cultural as personal. The context of the Diisseldorf art scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s provides an important backdrop for the story of Braunkreuz. This period witnessed the development of the zero group, which was greatly indebted to the example set by the Frenchman Yves Klein. For both Klein and the zero artists, the spiritual mission of art was a fundamental con cern of their work, and the solution was found in the seeming purity of a mono chrome system.
In 1957 the inaugural show at the Galerie Schmela in Diisseldorf was a roomful of Klein's large canvases with rounded corners, identical painted fields of intense blue. One can only speculate on the inspiration that International Klein Blue may have provided to the invention of Braunkreuz. Yet the parallels between Klein and Beuys are striking, particularly the spiritual ambitions that motivated the work of both artists. Contemporary critics primarily remember Klein for the sensational aspects of his showmanship and his elegant critique of the avant-garde tradition in works such as his "exhibition of the void" in 1958.52 However, Klein's work, informed by Rosicrucian study as well as by his long encounter with Zen while in Japan, rested on the vision of a new age in which the spirit overcomes materialism. Klein's bold entreaty, "Come with me into the void" invited the viewer into the realm of pure space, leaving behind images of the day-to-day world and the lines tracing its details and complications. The viewer looking into a blue canvas with its rolled-on paint was gazing into the infinite, uncontaminated by the painter's hand.
The repercussions of the Klein exhibition in Diisseldorf were immediately felt in the zero group, which had been founded in 1957 by Otto Piene, Heinz Mack, and Giinther Uecker. The zero artists shared the goal of an art that sought to expand human consciousness and to reach beyond the subjectivity presented by any form of expressionism or illusionism. The zero artists chose white as the color ideally suited to their needs, precisely because it encompassed all colors and thereby generalized the artistic statement. All-white canvases announced an attempt to overcome materiality and to arrive at the weightlessness signifying the highest of spiritual states. Springing from these Utopian goals came the desire of the zero artists to enter into the social context, literally to transform daily life beyond the picture plane. In July 1961, in conjunction with an exhibition at the Galerie Schmela, the first zero festival took place in Dusseldorf. It was organized as a "Festival of Light" complete with mylar foil and balloons, fireworks, and a parade. With an earnestness that recalls the Dada festivities of Hugo Ball, these artists set out to clothe contemporary reality in an invented one. Even the pavement of the street outside the Galerie Schmela was painted white for the occasion.
Against this backdrop of a white Diisseldorf, Braunkreuz takes on a pointed quality. Beuys's spiritual concerns as an artist were by no means unique, and yet there is a dramatic difference between Beuys's approach and that of Klein or the zero group. Klein set out to visualize the absolute that denoted the coming age, but Beuys seemed to face the opposite direction. The texture and color of Braunkreuz appear to present all the weight, materiality, and ordinariness that his peers wished to escape from or replace. Rather than imagining man's disappearance into the sky, man's "leap into the void," Braunkreuz seems to confirm his attachment to the ground. This recalls drawings from the 1950s in which Beuys depicted himself as contained in stone or merged with the earth. One thinks also of Beuys's Double Fond, 1954-74, a sculpture composed of two iron blocks (one with copper clad ding), a steel rod, and a steel plate. Beuys's accompanying inscription states: "These iron blocks are so heavy that I cannot easily escape from this Hell." Adapt ing a traditional Romantic theme, Beuys addressed the dilemma of the artist whose lofty aspirations are confounded by human physical limitations.
Beuys's motives in selecting Braunkreuz as his medium for a spiritual project involve a mechanism that is also evident in the sculptural materials he used. Paradoxically, Beuys chose a brown color evoking dirt, dried blood, rust, or excrement to stand for a nonmaterial realm. The meaning, therefore, must be derived not through illustration or conventional symbolism, but rather, by a dynamic of contrast. Beuys described this strategy concretely in an interview with Jorg Schellmann and Bernd Kliiser in 1970, discussing why he worked with felt:
The phenomenon of complementary colours is well known if for instance, I see a red light and close my eyes, there's an after-image (ocular spectrum ) and that's green. Or, the other way round, if I look at a green light, then the after-image is red ....
So it's a matter of evoking a lucid world, a clear, a lucid, perhaps even a transcendental, a spiritual world through something which looks quite different, through an anti-image. Because you can't create an after-image or an anti-image by doing some thing which already exists, but only by doing something which is there as an anti- image, always in an anti-image process.
So it isn't right to say I'm interested in grey. That's not right. And I'm not interested
in dirt either. I'm interested in a process which leads us away beyond those things. 59
The same attitude is reflected in Beuys's comment about why the objects used in the performance Coyote: I Like America and America Likes Me were overpainted with brown: "Through the blockage the light colors or spectral colors will be directly driven forth as contrasts."60 This explanation depends on the nineteenth-century color theories of Goethe, whose writings meant a great deal to Beuys. Here he echoed Goethe's observation that "if we look at a dazzling, altogether colourless object, it makes a strong lasting impression, and its after-vision is accompanied by61 an appearance of color." This counterpoint is suggested in several Braunkreuz works Beuys made on the pages of technical color charts, the squares of pretty color revealed beneath the plastic substance of the brown paint.
Beuys's use of brown paint, like fat and felt, led to accusations that Beuys made ugly art. While Beuys staunchly denied that he found felt unappealing (responding, for)62 example, that if felt were so ugly, why did men wear felt hats all the time? the strategy was clear. Beuys's attitude toward material signified a rejection of conven tional notions of culture, in a grand modernist tradition of "anti-art." He found in Braunkreuz a paint that looked like the paint on people's floors —an art to step on. Its color evoked not only the ground but also waste or decayed material. The very manner in which Braunkreuz was applied —it was by nature a form of overpainting —constituted a gesture of opposition, of wiping out or covering up.
Beuys's approach adapted a realm of imagery that involved the supposedly ugly or unvalued, an avant-garde tactic since the early days of Romanticism and throughout the twentieth century. Both the Expressionists and the Dadaists, for example, incorporated into their aesthetic a profound distrust of the material and professional conventions of Western art. Kandinsky had celebrated the primitives for "renouncing ... all considerations of external form,"63 a claim that reflected his fantasy rather than actuality. When the Dada artists chose that nonsense word as their collective
name, its members pretended to similar ingenuousness.
In the work of artists ranging from Duchamp to Malevich, Dubuffet to Rauschenberg, the path of twentieth-century art repeatedly dislodges the accepted trappings of high culture. Yet the anti-art posture, in the case of Beuys as much as his predecessors, reinvigorated an evolving tradition. Often, the concept of anti-art marked a refusal to accept the restricted territory granted to art in the modernist era. Among the Fluxus artists, especially, the attraction to detritus and ephemeral elements expressed their opposition to commodification on the art market or memorialization in museum galleries. Beuys's involvement with Fluxus during the early 1960s reinforced his idea of art as something that could look less important than it was.
Braunkreuz never became exclusively associated with Beuys in the same way as did fat and felt, or as International Klein Blue became the trademark of Yves Klein. Nonetheless, the Beuys signature was implicit in Braunkreuz and, for this reason, Braunkreuz played a key role in the development of Beuys's production of multiples during the last two decades of his life. Braunkreuz provided the path from the unique work to the large editions of multiples that could function efficiently as object-autographs, Beuys "antennae" that could radiate his message to a large public.
Beuys's first multiple, Two Frauleins with Shining Bread, a complex play on the con cept of transubstantiation, has as its center a bar of chocolate overpainted with Braunkreuz . His next multiple, the first that Beuys produced with the gallery owner and publisher Rene Block, was entitled . . . with Braunkreuz. It extended the strategy of creating new works of art by putting small brown crosses on pre existing images. Each of the twenty-six numbers in the edition included one brown- crossed drawing, typescripts of two stage plays of 1961, and a half-cross made of felt. Painted in large block letters on the cross was the word BEUYS, flanked by two small brown crosses that echo those framing the drawing. United in a handmade linen box, these items supply a composite of Beuys's work: texts, image, and sculpture, as well as the concept of the name. Following the model of the many "anthologies" published by Fluxus, and ultimately the Box-in-a-Valise made by Marcel Duchamp in 1941 to house miniature reproductions of his own works, . . . with Braunkreuz provided a small Beuys survival kit. Completing that metaphor, in one box of the edition a gas-mask bag was substituted for the drawing.
Beuys's next multiples provide the transition from the individually painted brown cross to the array of stamps that cover his work from 1967 on, marking sculptures, photographs, drawings, posters, postcards, and drawings. Created with an ordinary rubber stamp pressed to an ink pad, the stamp was at once a method of personalization and a banal part of everyday life, omnipresent in Germany more than in America. The rubber stamp was emphasized in Fluxus work during the 1960s, although it dates back at least to the drawings of Kurt Schwitters. For Beuys, the debut of the stamp occurred in the multiple following . . . with Braunkreuz, the catalogue that accompanied the one-man exhibition at the Stadtisches Museum in Mon chengladbach in 1967. The book's felt cover is in the form of a modified half-cross. Stamped in brown across the felt is the word BEUYS with a cross stamped just beneath the U.
The same stamp marks Beuys's felt suit, a multiple of 1970. The suit had a precedent in an outfit Beuys displayed at the "Demonstration for Capitalist Realism" in Dusseldorf in 1963: a man's set of clothing with small, painted crosses pinned to it.67 The evolution occurring between those two suits reveals a refinement of Beuys's language but no change in his intentions. The Christian and historical allusions of the earlier costume surface in the stamped felt-suit multiple. Beuys discussed the felt suit in terms of the warmth it provides, that is, "a completely different kind of warmth, namely spiritual or evolutionary warmth."
The "Beuys" stamp soon evolved into others, and the stamp became a ubiquitous part of Beuys's work. The Hauptstrom stamp, for example, became part of any works Beuys considered to embody the central currents of his thought; other stamps named Beuys's organizations (such as the German Student Party, the Organization for Direct Democracy, and the Free International University) or favored slogans ("Beuys: ich kenne kein Weekend" ["I know no weekend"]). The appearance of these stamps on Beuys's works depends directly on the precedent set by the brown crosses used to mark drawings and objects throughout the early and mid-1960s, but the mood was now different. The proliferation of the stamps signals what might be considered the next phase in Beuys's career, after the period dominated by his teach ing at the academy and his early actions. During the end of the 1960s Beuys's methods expanded to use his personal celebrity as a vehicle for a group effort to achieve world change. The individual identity "Beuys," as it was integrated —indeed stamped —into every work, at the same time opened out to include the idea that everyone is an artist.
Bender of space: the Human (h)
Bender of time: the Human (h)
(Joseph Beuys, from and in us . . under us . . . landunder, 1965)
One of the many paradoxes of Beuys's art is that the works for which he is perhaps most remembered —the actions of the mid-1960s and early 1970s —are those that are least available to memory. A limited number of people actually witnessed them, and remarkably few of them were recorded on film or video. The actions survive most prominently in often-reproduced photographs and in the objects used during performance that are preserved as autonomous works. They also survive through a number of drawings that relate to the individual actions, now scattered among various collections. These drawings, usually combining text and image, are collectively known as Partituren, the German word for musical scores. This general usage derives from Beuys's own frequent, although by no means exclusive, tendency to refer to an action-related drawing as a Partitur.
Beuys's scores comprise an extremely diverse body of drawings, sometimes serving as working notes for an action, sometimes as documentary records. In general, the drawings name or illustrate objects used during the event, list key phrases that Beuys recited aloud, or elaborate the conceptual foundation of the action. Never are they complete accountings of all that would take place. By definition, as drawings, the scores cannot convey the mesmerizing quality of Beuys's gestures, the sensory complexity of the experience, the immediacy of the political moment in which they took place, and the mood of the audience in attendance. But precisely because the scores exist explicitly as fragments, as incomplete elements, they signal the absence of all the rest while they permit a unique perspective on the actions themselves. As such, the scores share the spirit of relics surrounding the action-related objects now clustered in Beuys's vitrines at the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt and other museums and private collections.
Beuys's actions remain the most spectacular enactment of the Gesamtkunstwerk 70 aesthetic that pervades his work. His commitment to the notion of creativity as aresource that supersedes departmentalization as well his own strong sense of music and theater made the actions primary touchstones for the strikingly international and interdisciplinary avant-garde of the 1960s. In the United States, the medium of happenings brought artists out of their studios to stage seemingly improvisational (although often tightly planned) events in lofts, galleries, backyards, and on the street. In Austria, the Actionist movement developed a much more aggressive and sensational theater based on the principle of catharsis. Germany was the center of Fluxus, a worldwide movement in which artists, poets, and musicians used performance to return to art its sense of play. Live performance was an ideal medium for a group that stressed the ephemeral nature of art in a universe of "flux."
The myriad achievements and interrelationships of the artists involved in Fluxus, happenings, and Viennese Actionism have only recently begun to be charted. Their documentation has been hindered by the very qualities that attracted artists to performance practice in the mid-1960s: its resistance to the compartmentalization of art history and institutions. The blend of text, dance, sound, and visual image attained an importance not witnessed since the activities of the Futurists and Dadaists in the 1910s. Like those predecessors, most of these artists shared strong political commitments, even if often veiled by the comic or mystical aspect of their activities. The German word Aktion, employed by the Viennese as well as by Beuys, has the connotation of a political or military maneuver. The politicization of culture during the 1960s resounds in the Fluxus manifesto by George Maciunas calling to: "FUSE the cadres of cultural, social & political revolutionaries into united front & action." The involvement of the artist with an audience metaphorically signals or implies a desire for an art that has more integral connection with life than that of the formalist strain of modern painting or sculpture. While most of Beuys's actions did not explicitly present topical content, the artist's self-transformation in performance beckoned toward individual and societal transformation beyond that arena. Recall ing The Chief (1964), in which he lay rolled in felt for nine hours at the Galerie Rene Block in Berlin, Beuys explained that "Such an action, and indeed every action, changes me radically. In a way it's a death, a real action and not an interpretation.Theme: how does one become a revolutionary? That's the problem."
Boundaries between art and life were not the only boundaries to be broken; at the beginning of the 1960s, boundaries between performance and literary and visual art eroded first. This development was both reflected in and fueled by a new-found awareness of the Dada movement of the 1910s, little in evidence for several decades. At the close of the 1950s, the rediscovery of Dada, in Europe as well as the United States, had a forceful impact on the emerging generation. In 1958 the Dusseldorf Kunsthalle and Kunstverein organized an enormous retrospective, "Dada —The Documents of a Movement." As its title implies, the exhibition of over five hundred works included Dada journals, ephemera, film, and performance as well as paintings and objects. The American press noted the enthusiastic response to the provocative spirit of the exhibition, summed up in a young viewer's pleased verdict: "Dada isn't the Economic Miracle!" Still recovering from Nazi repression and its aftermath, German art was to find rebirth in its earlier tradition of protest.
Visual artists also received important direction from the field of contemporary music. The word Partituren immediately signals the musical context in which this body of Beuys's drawings was conceived. Beuys's involvement with Fluxus ushered him into a milieu of many artists who had begun careers as musicians and whose primary platform was musically based live performance. Beuys had studied piano and cello as a boy, and music remained an essential part of his understanding of art. At the opening of his one-man exhibition at the Haus Koekkoek in Kleve in 1961, he played piano pieces by Erik Satie, a composer of interest to avant-garde musicians during the 1950s and 1960s. Musical collaborators such as the Danish composer Henning Christiansen played an important role in Beuys's actions, as did "acoustic instruments" of various kinds. In objects as well as performance, the play between sound and silence remained a fundamental part of Beuys's artistic language through out his life.
Beuys's work in Fluxus, and Fluxus activity as a whole, is greatly indebted to the theories of John Cage (1912—1992). Inspired by Cage's classes in the late 1950s at the New School in New York, a number of young artists such as Dick Higgins and Allan Kaprow began to rethink what might be defined as music. Cage's insistence on a musical piece as an entity in a continuous process of change proved central for the Fluxus artists. Equally important was his belief that the ordinary sounds of daily life were more interesting than the sounds produced by musical cultures. This conviction inspired Cage's transformation of everyday objects into instruments, as well as his elaboration of the "prepared" piano —a piano whose interior would be filled with any number of objects or materials in order to alter the sounds produced. Beuys's Revolution Piano of 1969 is one of countless offspring of Cage's creation.
Cage's ideas about music implied a corresponding challenge to traditional concepts of notation. Western musical notation did not provide for a connection between music and the picturing of it. Cage felt that notation should "recognize that sounds did truly exist in a field," rather than in the abstract context of an intellectual system.Thus, for example, notes of longer duration should occupy a longer space, while bigger notes could indicate louder volume. Cage's scores have a visual elegance that attests to his early interest in painting; at the same time, his spatial concept of notation implied what might well be considered a sculptural approach to sound. In this sense it held great importance for the next generation of artists. Cage's activity, as much as that of the Futurists and Dadaists, licensed the great variety of unconventional pages that would serve as "scores" to Beuys's actions and to the performances of other artists of the 1960s.
Beuys was well aware of Cage's work, which was accessible in West Germany by the end of the 1950s. In 1958 Cage gave a concert in Diisseldorf at Gallery 22, the progressive gallery run by Jean-Pierre Wilhelm. Nam June Paik, a classically trained Korean musician who had come to West Germany in 1956, attended that performance; in 1959 Paik performed a piece billed as an homage to Cage (music for piano and tape recorder) in the same gallery. Beuys was in the audience during that event, as he was for Paik's concert during the 1962 "Neo-Dada in der Musik" festival at the Dusseldorf Kammerspiele. Paik and Beuys began a warm friendship, and over the next two decades they would join in several collaborative actions. Beuys's great appreciation for Cage would continue throughout his life. Many of Cage's musical innovations were useful to Beuys, and his social, pedagogic, and aesthetic theories also provide remarkable parallels to Beuys's own thinking.
The concept of a drawing as a score had a solid precedent in Beuys's own under standing of drawing. The score provides a suitable metaphor for Beuys's drawing enterprise as a whole. It echoes his consistent reference to the drawings as a source of ideas from which to work and as a form of blueprint for his artistic projects. The score exemplifies Beuys's preference for process over product, and the concept of art as an event that takes place in time rather than one that exists in stasis. This same principle gave Fluxus its name.
Nonetheless, Beuys's scores distinctly differ from those written and drawn by Fluxus artists. While the latter primarily were written as prescriptive recipes that anyone could enact at any time, Beuys's drawings do not begin to offer such opportunity. They remain distinctly tied to unique events, wholly dependent on Beuys's own per sona and the setting, sound, timing, and mood that he created. In this respect they are far closer to the performance-related drawings of the Viennese Actionists. Their individuality as original works was still of great importance for Beuys and recalls the central place that drawing held in the evolution of Beuys's thought during the pre vious decade.
In Beuys's work the score traces its roots to the list drawings he had begun making two decades earlier. These works, dependent on words for both pictorial structure and expressive content, play an important role in Beuys's drawing activity through out his entire career. A work such as Herb Robert is a list of plants penciled on a thin notebook page, sealed with the pressed geranium blossoms from which the work derives its title. The geranium was known for its healing powers, and the list names a variety of therapeutically useful plants. Made while Beuys was at the University of Poznan on a study leave from his military service, the drawing reflects the passion for natural science that Beuys had nurtured since boyhood. Throughout his life Beuys retained a deep interest in the use of herbs and wild flowers for medicinal and culinary purposes.
The lyrical and often witty aspects of Beuys's early list drawings belie their impor tance to his way of working. Lists, as tools for organizing one's world, tap into the thought patterns fundamental to daily existence. Only this accounts for the fascination that can accompany the making or reading of even the most ordinary list. In their reordering of typical classifications, Beuys's early lists already anticipate his work of the 1960s, which would address the heart of Western assumptions about order and disorder, sameness and otherness. The obsession with indexing and list- making shared by all the Fluxus artists reflects similar motivations. In the drawing entitled Sediment, Beuys anticipated the spirit of Fluxus. This three-part work looks much larger than its size (about 12 by 25 inches), chiefly
because of the bold strokes of dark gray paint across its surface. The crude brush- work acts as a counterpoint to the nicely ordered, thin ink columns. There is an incantatory quality to the flow of German words, ranging from industrial materials (steel, felt, petroleum) to household goods (ointment, bottles, picture frames, fabrics) to all sorts of waste matter (tailor's waste, slaughterhouse waste, construction waste, industrial waste), and a host of miscellaneous items ranging from office fasteners to lipsticks to Christmas trees. The concept of sediment was a key one for Beuys in that it denotes the transition between death and rebirth: deposits of dead matter go through the process of decay in order to become nutriment. Following the thought of Rudolf Steiner, Beuys understood life on earth as a cycle of metamorphoses rather than an unconnected series of entries and exits. In this respect, Beuys focused his attention on the points of continuity and transformation. For example, he celebrated the bogs of Northern Europe as "the liveliest elements in the European landscape . . . storing places of life, mystery and chemical change, preservers of ancient history." Bogs provide both a record of ancient life and the material of regeneration, as they convert dead organic matter into new, usable form.
While Sediment enumerates the waste left by an industrial society, the drawing resonates beyond that image. This resonance comes largely as a result of what followed soon thereafter in Beuys's work: Sediment can be read as a virtual prescription for Fluxus. In addition to indicating the role that trash would play in the Fluxus repertory, Sediment also has to do with the idea of use and re-use, the flow from which the movement derived its name. "Sediment" implies the idea of works of art not as products in and of themselves, but as relics of events or processes and nourishment for those to come. Past and future are present within any individual work. Beuy's emphasis on the organic nature of his work was strikingly evident at the "Stallausstellung —Fluxus 1963" held in the stable of the van der Grinten farm in Kranenburg. 86 A careful installation placed objects on the floor as well as on the walls and along the stalls and troughs.
The structure of the list provides the first evidence of Beuys's interest in the theater: between 1961 and 1963 he wrote a small number of "stage plays," documented in manuscript and typescript drawings . The stage plays are Beuys's most directly Fluxus-like works, although some date prior to his actual participation in the Fluxus movement. These "plays" are written primarily as lists of characters, with a few instructions. This format brings the stage plays close to drawings such as the typescript list that names the components of the Scene from the Staghunt at Darmstadt (fig. 18). The stage plays represent the metamorphosis of the list into a dramatic scenario and provide a step on the way to fully developed actions. These plays occupy a middle ground between a form of poem and a Partitur for an action; they are purely conceptual compositions, rather than literal performance scripts. The closest precedent for Beuys's stage plays can be found in the playlets written in the 19ZOSby Kurt Schwitters, which have a similarly compelling absurdist logic. They also relate to what George Maciunas termed the "Haiku theater" developed by Fluxus artists —short recipes such as those found in Dick Higgins's "Danger Music" ("Danger Music Number Twenty Nine: Get a job for its own sake," March 1963).
Despite their modesty, Beuys's stage pieces contain the seeds of his future work. The importance of Play 17, 1963, for example, is confirmed by its existence in four different multiple editions between 1969 an 1977 an in several individual handwritten versions. This piece, like most, takes the form of a list, preceded by the phrase "in a room with / 4 fat corners acting together." A variety of animals, insects, birds, and fish makes up the company of actors, dominated by nine stags and five Easter rabbits. The point of the play comes in the stage directions that follow: "The animals vanish as soon as / the Western man enters / simultaneously projected on / the room's north wall / the Eastern man."
This short stage play can be seen as the initial form of the complex actions Eurasia and Eurasian Staff of 1966 and 1967, which find their central themes in the spiritual and political division of East and West. Play 17, which takes the terms Western and Eastern man from Rudolf Steiner, exemplifies Beuys's belief that European culture has divorced itself from the world of nature; it holds up a mythic East as an alternative model. Beuys uses animals both metonymically and metaphorically here. They stand for the natural environment as a whole but also signal the animal aspect of human nature: the instinctual or sensory capacities not related to intellect or conscious will.
Play 17 demonstrates Beuys's ongoing concern with the spiritual and social links between humans and animals. When he founded the German Student Party at the Diisseldorf Academy in 1967, Beuys described it as the largest party in the world, admitting that most of its members were animals. Beuys's cheerful claim had a serious edge in its suggestion that the healthy future of life on this planet was as important to animals as to human beings. The sensibility first implied in Play 17 found practical expression ten years later with Beuys's role as a founder of West Germany's Green Party and his individual initiative in various environmental projects such as the planting of trees for 7000 Oaks begun at Documenta 7 in 1982.
Beuys's stage plays indicate the artist's interest in theatrical setting, but they remain distinct from his actual performance activity, which began in earnest in 1963 with the "Festum Fluxorum Fluxus" at the Diisseldorf Academy. As might be expected of the early Partituren , the drawings for Siberian Symphony , performed on the second night of the festival, closely relate to the narrative imagery of the 1950s. Many descriptively illustrate the performance and are painted in Braunkreuz, which remained an important medium for the objects Beuys used during actions as well as in his Partituren. As his work with Fluxus continued, however, Beuys's drawings became more concerned with sound and words than with picturing the action.
The drawings that relate to the many actions that Beuys performed from the mid- 1960s to the early 1970s indicate how drawing remained an integral part of Beuys's process during this period. Complete typescript scores exist for two of Beuys's early actions, and in us . . . under us . . . landunder, 1965, and Manresa, 1966. Each type script relates to several drawings that elaborate the finished scores and the settings of the actions and articulate the central concepts underlying them. The drawings to and in us . . . under us . . . landunder , like all the Partituren, provide a key to the action they document. The action and in us . . . was performed at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal in 1965, as part of a twenty-four hour Fluxus festival lasting from midnight June 5 to the following midnight. The participants were Bazon Brock, Charlotte Moorman, Nam June Paik, Eckart Rahn, Tomas Schmidt, and Wolf Vostell. Beuys's action lasted the entire twenty-four hours, with the other par ticipants' performances taking place simultaneously elsewhere in the gallery.
The theme of and in us . . . centered on man's power to redefine the experience of space and time. Beuys's performance accomplished both: for twenty-four hours, he crouched on a wooden crate placed in the center of the room. A variety of props surrounded him on the floor —a cane, small tools and containers, a dead hare and a hare made of molded gelatin, small mounds of margarine and lard, a music stand, and a tape recorder. Photographs taken by Ute Klophaus depict Beuys absorbed in small tasks —blowing onto a mound of lard, for example, or listening to a metal funnel held closely to his ear. At certain intervals, Beuys stood up and ceremoniously raised a double-handled, heart-shaped spade high in the air). The photographs emphasize the pronounced aura of ritual involved in Beuys's movements, not in the Dionysiac mode of the Viennese Actionists, but radiating intense focus and concentrated energy.
Beuys's typescript score for the action examines the modern division between science and spirit. Several handwritten Partituren seem to have served as drafts for the published score. Unlike the two sketchbooks for the action, they do not illustrate any of the props, such as the double-handled spades, but rehearse Beuys's ideas for the text's basis in scientific terminology. One Partitur lists the names of twenty-seven physicists next to the scientific formulas they developed, while another excerpts only the formulas. Beuys had already used the imagery of science in countless drawings of the 1950s and in works such as Double Aggregate and the Fond sculptures to suggest a broadening of the art arena beyond that of culture and to posit a relationship between scientific and aesthetic creativity. In the score to and in us . . . he manipulated the conventional formulas of science to express this conviction.
The work of the physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) provided a metaphoric founda tion for and in us ... . The essence of quantum physics is expressed in Planck's formula E = hv, in which E stands for energy, V is an electromagnetic frequency, and h, known as Planck's constant, quantifies a relationship between the two. Beuys's score took Planck's equation as a departure point from which to propose a reformulation of hard science into a field that allows a place for the human spirit. In the score for and in us , drafted on a drawing with a generous fat stain in the upper left and later stamped Hauptstrom, Beuys wrote:
The formulae of Planck and Einstein urgently need expanding, since otherwise they are only in the position to prove space hypertrophy. The value "h" can be identified from the Planck formula as "Human"/h is the value on which all futures converge.
Beuys's claim that we must identify the value h as human deftly sets Planck's formula in the service of Beuys's "warmth theory," his vision of the creative process. The production of energy becomes not so much a scientific problem as a human one: man is the constant that determines energy production. Human beings replace anonymous quanta as the agents of transformation.
Beuys's assertion alludes to the fact that the history of twentieth-century physics is tied to the history of Nazism and World War II. The Third Reich redefined policies and careers in science no less than in art, and Max Planck is one of many scientists who both greatly contributed to the field of physics and willingly worked within Hitler's regime. Beuys's purposeful redefinition of Planck's constant from an abstract symbol to a human being insists on the failure of science separated from human morality, and the dangers of isolating creative work from the rest of life.
This message was reinforced in a series of statements in the score: man is identified as the "bender of space," the "bender of time," the "producer of space" and "counterspace," the "producer of time" and "countertime," and so on. The end of the score declares man the "producer of truth." Man's potential for a vastly different experience of this world —spiritually and materially —is far broader than the for mulations of modern physics would suggest. He needs only to recognize that this energy lies within himself: "Since Beuys' warm theory/FLUXUShumanity has it all."
At the same time Beuys asked that modern science adopt the humanistic considerations more usually confined to art, his methods implied that art could, in turn, imitate science. Beuys's drawings for and in us ... , like much conceptual art of the time in both Europe and the United States, or like Duchamp's notes to The Large Glass,97 adopt the look of the work of the scientist, using bits of scrap paper or bound notebooks. Beuys did not pretend to address the actual science of his own time, and his method remained at the metaphoric level of suggesting that the work of the artist is less craft than brain-oriented. In this he was very much of his moment, as artists mirrored a post-industrial society whose basis had shifted from physical to mental work and began to produce art that aspired to "information."
Manresa is the second action for which Beuys prepared a formal score as well as a large number of preparatory drawings. These drawings attain an independent pictorial strength beyond that of the textual Partituren for and in us ... . Some are painted over with Braunkreuz, which covers fragments of the text or lists of elements used in the action. These drawings, now dispersed among several collections, form a picture of Beuys's major concerns in the action. Manresa took place at the Galerie Schmela on December 15, 1966, and marked the closing of Alfred Schmela's first gallery prior to his move to a larger space. This action was a collaboration between Beuys and two Danish artists: Henning Christiansen and Bjorn Norgaard. Both maintained that Beuys did not involve them in the conception or the planning of the action, but enlisted them as autonomous participants. Beuys asked Christiansen to supply the music, and Norgaard to simultaneously perform a piece that had impressed Beuys when he had heard it in Copenhagen.
Beuys's activity involved several components. The largest was a tall half-cross built of wood and coated in felt, labeled with a sign as "Element 1." A wooden box con taining electrical apparatus and miscellaneous items such as a rosemary plant was labeled "Element 2". The half-cross denoted contemporary man's divided self, as a rational but not a spiritual being. Element 2, which Beuys used to generate sparks during the action, provided the element of intuition. Beuys also used a sculpture from the early 1950s entitled Plate Crucifix, as well as felt and fat corners, and a wind-up toy bird, which he released into the air at the conclusion.
The name of the action is taken from the village in Spain where Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491—1556), the founder of the Jesuits, wrote his Spiritual Exercises. In so titling the work, Beuys set up an autobiographical analogy with another figure for whom a military career provoked a personal crisis. Retreating to Manresa, Loyola devoted himself to working out the regime of meditation and self-purification that gave birth to the Jesuit order. Here exists, albeit in a Christian context, the paradigm of the shaman who converts his own experience of suffering into a therapy for society and transforms his personal rebirth into a collective one. By 1966 Beuys's own artistic ambitions were clearly formulated along that line.
"Intuition is the higher form of reason" was the theme of Manresa, a principle at the heart of Beuys's work in all mediums. The theme closely connects Manresa to the first action performed at the Galerie Schmela, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare. This connection is suggested in a pencil drawing now contained in The secret block for a secret person in Ireland (fig. 33). It shows a man standing in profile, hold ing against his forehead a dark sphere, which an inscription identifies as a fat ball (F.ettkugel).The drawing implies the need for man to counter intellectual activity with intuition, the same principle presented in How to Explain . . . when Beuys covered his head in honey. The head, honey-covered and coated in gold leaf, was no longer merely a housing for the brain. Honey, like fat, resists definite boundaries, not fixed in a state of either solid or liquid. Both substances served Beuys as metaphors for creative energy that does not harden into intellectual habit but remains in a state of openness and flux.
While the drawing from The secret block conceptualizes the theme of Manresa — intuition counteracting reason —its verso bears a drawing that explicitly illustrates the two main components of the action, Elements 1 and 2. The action pro posed a search for the unification of Elements 1 and 2 in a third element: how can contemporary man achieve a synthesis between spiritual and rational life? This question was posed in the score for Manresa , written in the form of a polyphonic text composed of several short phrases repeated in different order. The central refrain, found on several of the drawings, inquired: "Now? Has Element 2 climbed up to Element 1? Now? Has Element 1 climbed down to Element 2?".102 Handwritten in ink, the phrases form the ground of drawings overpainted with thick strokes of Braunkreuz. In one drawing, the brown paint forms a divided cross, halved by the left border of the sheet. The phrases inscribed on these sheets have a musical quality, even in written form. Straightforward declamations (the introductory "Here speaks Fluxus Fluxus") operate in counterpoint with enigmatic passages ("Good day, Where are you going? the Thorvaldsen Museum"). The rhythm and the color of the text recall the Merz plays of Kurt Schwitters and other Dada experiments. The last line, "also I fly to you manresa ," particularly echoes the mannered sincerity of Schwitters's most famous poem, "Anna Blume."
Beuys reproduced one drawing for Manresa as a multiple in 1967. 105 The original drawing is made on cardboard and is the second half of a list that names or illustrates the objects used in the action. These include the microphones and tape recorders, the bicycle pumps through which fat was sprayed on the wall, and the toy bird. The three progressively larger triangles, painted in gray oil as well as sketched in pencil, appear here as well as in another drawing related to the action, in which the three are fit together.
The importance of angles extends throughout Beuys's sculptures and actions; particularly in the context of Manresa , they bring to mind Kandinsky's exposition of the triangle in his book of 1911, Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Another artist power fully influenced by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, Kandinsky used the triangle to represent "the life of the spirit." He described this triangle as one that moves steadily upward, following the path of the visionary artist. Kandinsky's discussion of the genesis of this triangle provides a striking antecedent to Manresa , and to Beuys's thought in general: "Frequent use is made here of the terms 'material' and 'non- material' ... Is everything material? or is everything spiritual? ... all that matters here is that the boundaries drawn should not be too definite."
The action Manresa presented the successful conjunction of the two elements in the new "Element 3" as the most important task facing contemporary society. Six months after the action, Beuys initiated one possible response to this challenge by founding his first political organization, the German Student Party. In Beuys's catalogue for the Guggenheim Museum exhibition in 1979, the text describing the Manresa score asks "Where is Element 3?" The answer, boxed for emphasis, is the statement "On 22 June 1967 Beuys founded the German Student Party as a Meta- party in Room 13 of the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Diisseldorf."" By 1967 Beuys had decided to take the issues that he had articulated in his actions and discussions into an explicitly political arena. His work with the students evolved into a commit ment that extended well beyond the academy during the 1970s and 1980s. Beuys's crusade for social change, which included his work with the Free International University and the Green Party, became his means of pursuing an "Element 3" that transcended the inequities of current political and economic systems.
The only two actions for which Beuys published formal scripts and the only two with drawings so literally "scored" were and in us . . . under us . . . landunder and Manresa. But many of the actions that Beuys performed during the latter half of the 1960s and the early 1970s correspond to casual sketches that detail props or settings. The drawing Notes for an Action , 1967, for example, indicates Beuys's planning for the action Eurasian Staff 82 min fluxorum organum as performed at the Galerie Nachst St. Stephan in Vienna on July 2, 1967. 110 It is one of several actions concerning "Eurasia," a fixation rooted in Beuys's wartime experience in the Luftwaffe , and particularly his encounter with the Tatars. While typically modernist in its fascination with non-European culture, Beuys's Eurasian ideal had pointed significance. The theme of synthesis and unification resonated forcefully in West Germany, a nation not only severed from its eastern section, but dominated by the tensions of East/West relations during the Cold War. For Beuys and the Fluxus artists (Fluxus remained the only contemporary art movement uniting Europeans, Asians, and Americans), the concept of "Eurasia" signified political as well as cul tural and spiritual exchange between East and West.
Beuys's drawing for the performance of Eurasian Staff is typical of a preparatory sketch, similar to the drawing listing the elements of Manresa. The drawing contains a list of equipment and the names of his co-workers, the photographer Ute Klophaus and the composer Henning Christiansen. It depicts the copper staff and the four felt columns used during the course of the action and illustrates the iron sole that Beuys wore beneath his right shoe and the felt sole that was attached to the wall. The drawing also states the words Bildkopf— Bewegkopf ("image head —mover head"), which Beuys repeated throughout the action and wrote on the floor. He used the first term to refer to things as they are; the second to suggest how they could be changed by new forms of thought. A succinct, utilitarian "note," the drawing documents the practical thinking underlying the hypnotic spirit of Beuys's performance.
The action Hauptstrom (Mainstream ), presented in Darmstadt at the gallery of Franz Dahlem in 1967, introduces performance-related drawing created during the process of the action. A ten-hour action, Hauptstrom, like so many of Beuys's other actions, placed the artist in an isolated area for a long period of time. Beuys demarcated the room as a "fat space," setting boundaries with ridges of fat. During the course of the action, he manipulated the fat, moved through it, and applied it to his body. The Partituren that correspond to the Hauptstrom action were made on quadrant-ruled pages of a notebook, and all bear large stains of pale yellow fat - According to Beuys, the notebook was filled with notes for Manresa ; the notebook was next to Beuys during the Hauptstrom action, and the fat soaked the pages within. As relics of a specific event, the Hauptstrom drawings operate in very much the same way as the objects from the same action now gath ered in vitrines in the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. One finds, for example, lumps of fat into which Beuys had bitten, bearing the clear imprint of his teeth.
The drawings from Hauptstrom are exceptional in that they are relics of a performance. Nonetheless, all of Beuys's Partituren share that feeling, whether they present object lists, text citations, or spatial diagrams. This quality of souvenir is true of coherent bodies of drawings —such as those related to Manresa or other actions such as Iphigenia/Titus Andronicus —as well as various, more note-like preparatory sketches. Beuys's Partituren possess an autonomous existence as unique drawings, but also emphasize their connection to the event they document, to the artist/performer who created them, and to his larger body of work. Even when the connection is not so literal as that between Manresa and Hauptstrom, their visual similarities reinforce their mutual association.
The tightly knit development that links the themes and instruments of Beuys's various actions is mirrored in the corresponding section of his Life Course/Work Course. After the first version was published in Aachen in 1964, Beuys continued to add to the text for various catalogue publications throughout the 1960s. The later additions to the biography differ both in tone and appearance from the first part. The text written in 1964 retains distinct listings with separate lines for each year, much in the manner of a conventional biographical chronology. But the last entry for 1964 begins a continuous recital of the events that filled the next five years. It takes the form of one dense run-on paragraph, the different events separated only by semicolons, with no spaces separating annual entries. The entire text reflects the spirit of Fluxus, with no clear beginning or pause at any point. As an overall score for those years, it reflects the nonstop nature of Beuys's performance, teaching, and exhibition activity, and the absolute indivisibility within and among each.
The work of art is the greatest riddle of all, but man is the solution (Joseph Beuys).
In autumn 1967 the Stadtisches Museum Monchengladbach, located sixteen miles from Dusseldorf, presented the retrospective exhibition "Joseph Beuys." In his Life Course/Work Course Beuys described the exhibition as "Parallel Process 1." The term suggests a double track that carried conceptual or theoretical work alongside the more obvious object-oriented route. The latter had begun in the studio and reached into the gallery; the former had begun in the classroom and now would extend beyond school walls. By the mid-1960s the spiritual aims of Beuys's work translated into an "expanded concept of art" that sought real-world change. The political steps inherent in the term "action" were to be taken, and the "Parallel Pro cess" implied that Beuys's roles as an artist and as a citizen would run hand-in-hand.
The work that began with the founding in 1967 of the German Student Party, and continued with the Organization for Direct Democracy three years later, aimed to catalyze all individuals to participate directly in government and social policy. This came at a moment when, internationally, the anti-war, civil rights, and feminist movements were stirring popular protest and activism at every level; Beuys captured the mood of an era with his formulation of democratic society as an art work and its citizens as the artists. While this "expanded concept of art" defines the second half of Beuys's career, the details of his work as an activist have received scant attention from art historians focused on objects and political historians unfamiliar with artists. Beuys's refusal to fit cleanly into either camp also cost him allies. However, his concept was far from an exception within the Western art tradition; in Germany, particularly, the question of art's relationship to ideology was seldom far from the surface. Nor was Beuys's work an exception during the decade in which the politicization of culture changed the artistic landscape in Europe and the United States as it had not since the 1930s. Countless artists engaged issues such as opposition to the Vietnam War either directly in their work or through participation in organized protests, activist associations, and benefit events. Beuys's project of "social sculpture" fit into a moment when few artists found the realms of art and life simple to distinguish.
Social sculpture brought with it a new medium for Beuys's work: that of the spoken word. Whether at the Dusseldorf Academy, or later at the Organization for Direct Democracy office in Dusseldorf, on the street, or at art events, Beuys explained to any willing listener his vision of a better society. The silence dramatized in the 1965 action with the dead hare turned into an unceasing volubility, and the spiritual sensibility coded in mysterious imagery was now expressed in concrete workaday terms. During these years Beuys had far less use for the personal drawings that had occupied him until then. Work on paper metamorphosed into paperwork — organizing meetings, disseminating information, circulating petitions.
Beuys nonetheless redirected, rather than abandoned, his prodigious ability as a draftsman. His ideas for a new society retained a sculptural basis, and, indeed, the visual nature of the work of "social sculpture" distinguished Beuys from all contemporary activists. Beuys's concept of a better society was literally a vision, sketched on paper and on blackboards that set out the principles he saw as fundamental to a democratic society and the processes he saw as underlying human evolution. Thus, by 1970 a new sort of Partitur was richly in evidence: a score not for a theatrical action but for a social process.
These Partituren might be executed on blackboards, tabletops, menus, or notepads, in front of a crowd or one individual. Most of those made on stationery paper — often with the letterhead of the Organization for Direct Democracy — stem from impromptu dialogues with journalists, students, collectors, and others. Stamped with Beuys's Hauptstrom disk or other insignia in such a way as to augment the visual energy of the ink or pencil lines, these Partituren remain as souvenirs of con versations or documents of work situations. All of the surviving sheets and black boards contain variations on the same fundamental principles, rehearsed again and again. Much as Beuys had produced countless reiterations of favored themes during the 1950s, the incantatory power of repetition again carried along his vision.
Beuys's diagrams on blackboards and sheets of paper certainly developed from his experience as a teacher at the Diisseldorf Academy. Echoes of the classroom had resonated before in Beuys's many gallery actions that included writing on black boards, such as Siberian Symphony and Eurasia. The exchange between artistic practice and pedagogy culminated in the lectures and actions comprising Beuys's practice of social sculpture. Beuys's work in the 1970s synthesized the teacher and the performer, the classroom and the gallery, as he gladly accepted "any place" as one where efforts to transform society could occur.
A tally of Beuys's corpus of work from his last two decades must therefore include the innumerable transcripts, tapes, and videos of lectures and interviews from those years. And almost always, drawing served as an essential accompaniment to his speaking, much like gesturing with one's hands. Drawing was even a way of talking about drawing, as witnessed in the book Joseph Beuys: Zeichnungen , 1947-1956 (Cologne, 1972). 118 The text consists of a spirited interview between Beuys and the critic Hagen Lieberknecht, interspersed with Lieberknecht's recited analyses of selected drawings. The analyses are serious and thoughtful, and yet the manner of their recitation gleefully parodies scholarly convention, as Lieberknecht traces min ute points of iconography or cites historical authorities. The book reproduces the drawings in a plate section, but first presents a series of impromptu drawings Beuys made during the interview, sketching motifs they discussed, reinforcing key ideas. That section, together with the text edited by Beuys so as to reflect a very informal conversation, lifts the original 1950s drawings into a contemporary performance context.
Beuys's drawings and blackboards of the 1970s and 1980s all share this quality of live action; the finished compositions map the progress of a lecture that encompassed several points to be illustrated. Such lectures took place within the context of the Organization for Direct Democracy or the Free International University, the latter a mobile entity that brought interested citizens together at conferences and lectures throughout the world, addressing policy questions of local as well as global concern. The blackboard drawings also were created during the hundreds of lectures he gave in schools, galleries, museums, churches, and community centers. Beuys's first trip to the United States in January 1974 included no exhibition per se, and instead took the form of a month-long speaking tour billed as an "energy plan for the Western man." During lectures and discussions in New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis, Beuys sketched his ideas on blackboards, using the English he had learned to speak quite well.
Much as a teacher at the front of the classroom, Beuys would illustrate a point in one corner of the board, move elsewhere for a later point, and so on, until the surface was covered with individual diagrams that merged into one picture. Often, the hurried quality of line reveals the haste with which Beuys worked. This activity fits the theoretical and pedagogical tradition so important in German art; Paul Klee's work at the Bauhaus forms the greatest example in this century. While constituting a generally analytical study of perception and representation, Klee's thick compendia of art theory carried a humane, even spiritual subtext, and implied an extension of graphic energy into action. His metaphor of "taking a line for a walk" hinted at art's connection to life; Beuys's admonition, "walk only when you feel: your walk starts revolution," extended the message.
One of the key elements of virtually all Beuys's lectures was his illustration of the warmth theory, which had originated as a formula for physical sculpture but had expanded into one for social sculpture. Consequently, the warmth theory (or theory of sculpture) is diagrammed in countless blackboards and drawings that continue to function as visual demonstrations of Beuys's ideas. In a series of drawings made in Italy in 1972, the fifth drawing shows the theory in its simplest form: the movement from left to right along a line, showing the passage from unbestimmt ("undetermined") to bestimmt ("determined") — Beuys's favorite words to describe both the physical and psychic aspects of the transformation of energy into form. Again and again Beuys demonstrated the evolution from the pole of chaos (a wavy mass) to that of form (a tetrahedron) on a straight line going from left to right. The motion extends from Willen ("will") to Denken ("thought"). This diagram represents in abbreviated form what had been implicit in Beuys's earliest drawings and in his actions. In the 1970s, rather than referring to the forming of a fat corner or a dramatic scenario, the theory applied to the personal ability of each individual to shape society as a responsible, creative citizen.
The drawing Untitled (Score: Aesthetics = Man), 1971, focuses on Beuys's conviction that man is essentially a creative being. The drawing describes Beuys's concept of "Eurasia" —the unification of East and West. At the top of the drawing the "Eurasian staff" first used during the mid-1960s links the two poles, cutting across the wall that divides them. The felt pillars and copper rod used in Beuys's action Eurasian Staff are drawn at the left. Here, as was often the case, the diagram of the sculpture theory is superimposed on the human form. A figure is laid out horizontally, with the path from chaos to form represented in the line from the feet to the head. The heart at the center embodies the spirit, or movement, that trans forms Will into Form.
The idea of how each individual fits into the framework of society forms another paradigm in Beuys's lectures. The model is again tripartite: basing his ideas on the threefold model of Rudolf Steiner, Beuys advocated the division of society into three realms corresponding to culture, government, and the economy: freedom, democracy, and equality. Steiner had devised the model as a response to the threat of increasing state authoritarianism in the 1910s. Beuys supported it as the only hope for an alternative to the party politics of the postwar years and the misplaced success of the economic miracle.
Countless untitled drawings such as a small pencil work of 1971 all depict a similar pyramidal outline of a threefold society. The left side encompasses the realm of freedom: that which depends on and nurtures individual creativity and thus includes education, culture, religion, and the media. The right side concerns the principle of equality, thereby involving the economic sphere. Beuys saw little distinction between the state capitalism of the East and the private capitalism of the West and argued for a socialism that equitably employed and distributed the world's resources. The central spine of the image represents a democracy that operates from the individual upward, depending on direct voting rather than a representative parliamentary system corrupted by party power. This democratic mechanism interconnects and supports the realms of individual freedom and economic system; the three spheres form a whole in which the individual and the community are reciprocally joined. According to the three-part model of the sculpture theory (chaos —movement— form), democracy is the "movement" that mediates between the two poles of freedom and equality.
In drawings such as these the principle of social sculpture is visualized in the sculptural force of the compositions. The energy relationships between figural forms of the 1950s carry over into the distribution of directional arrows and staccato points, columns of words, and brief signs. Many of the drawings have the pyramidal com position that echoes Kandinsky's Utopian triangle as well as Beuys's own innumerable drawings of mountains. In addition to the play of graphic lines, the works on paper have as vital ingredients the ink insignia with which Beuys stamped them. In Untitled (Score: Aesthetics = Man) or the untitled drawing the Hauptstrom stamp floats like a disk, joining with the many drawn circles (the sun, the heart) in acrobatic counterpoint to the directional lines. In the series of pencil drawings made during an interview in Italy in 1972 the Hauptstrom stamp travels along the seven pages like the bouncing ball across the score for a sing-along. In every case the ink stamp lifts a drawing out of its individual isolation, signifying its link to a work in progress and identifying it as one element in a larger process.
Anthroposophy plays a large role in the blackboard and blackboard-related drawings, for Rudolf Steiner's longstanding importance to Beuys increased with the enter prise of social sculpture. In the wake of the devastation of World War I, and in an atmosphere of extreme economic and political instability, Steiner had developed from a spiritual thinker into a social reformer. Steiner's lectures to workers through out Europe and at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, argued for a restructuring of society by which the individual shaped the state, rather than the reverse. Beuys's efforts fifty years later — their spiritual intensity, political idealism, and grassroots approach — were similar responses to the contemporary situation. Even Beuys's medium — the large blackboard drawing — echoes that of Steiner. While lecturing at the Goetheanum during the 1920s, Steiner illustrated his points with brightly colored chalk drawings on sheets of black paper pinned to the wall. Still preserved at Dornach, these panels explored topics ranging from anthroposophical initiation to eurythmy to the creation of the world.
The importance of anthroposophy is evident in the small ink drawing Untitled (Evolution ) Untitled (Evolution ) replicates a blackboard made during a lecture given at an anthroposophical school in Bochum, West Germany, on July 1, 1974, 123 and shares the imagery of many others, including Untitled (Sun State), made in Chicago that same year. Figures representing plants, animals, and man are illustrated above a time line in the form of a double cone. Going from left to right, the diagram traces the narrowing path from the early age of myth to the time of Christ, through the Age of Reason. The present materialist moment is equated with that of the Crucifixion (also suggested in a small symbol of a five-petaled rose). The cone then widens again, opening up to the future of a sun state, where every individual exercises the "warmth" of creativity.
In the lower left of Untitled (Evolution ), the usual formulation of Beuys's sculpture theory — the passage from chaos to form — is presented in an alchemical context: sulphur, mercury, and salt, the three universals in alchemy, make up the three stages of the sculptural process. Sulphur signifies energy; and salt, with its crystalline com position, form. The two are mediated by mercury, the element of movement and the spirit. Beuys's early fascination with the ideas of the sixteenth-century Swiss alchemist and physician Paracelsus initiated a lifelong interest in alchemy that reappeared throughout his imagery and ideas.
Beuys often integrated his work for the Free International University with his participation in art events and exhibitions. For example, he proposed his contribution to the exhibition "Art into Society, Society into Art," held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1974, as a "permanent school where a free expansion of creative concepts can take place." Beuys spent almost every day of the four-week-long exhibition in the gallery from noon to eight o'clock explaining to visitors his principles and goals. The blackboards on which he wrote and drew during the discus sions stood on three easels, alluding to the threefold system of culture, economy, and law (or freedom, brotherhood, and equality). When Beuys finished one board he removed it from the easel and swung it onto the floor, aware that eventually "the floor will change to a black floor." The "sculpture" was thus a changing and grow ing entity throughout the show, with the finished blackboards on the floor already fragmentary relics of a still-ongoing process. The life of the relic was renewed when, at the exhibition's close, the one hundred blackboards were collectively entitled Directional Forces (Ricbtkrafte) and reassembled in expanded form as installations at the Rene Block Gallery in New York in 1975 and at the Biennale in Venice in 1976, and finally as part of the permanent collection at the Nationalgalerie Berlin (from 1977).
Beuys used as the basis for Directional Forces the site of an artist's workplace, much as he did for the Scene from the Staghunt in 1961 (fig. 18). This workplace is no longer a private studio or laboratory but a public place of communication. Directional Forces literalized the principle of thinking as form, as the discussions from the summer in London became sculptural reality. The blackboards are not neatly piled; the installation is left in an "open" form, suggesting that the piece functions not only as a relic but as an invitation to continue work that remains unfinished. It now rests with museum staffs and visitors to allow the piece to live as a "permanent school."
In an era in which the physical and ideological character of museums underwent fierce attack from artists and critics, Beuys saw museums (as well as expositions and galleries) as welcome hosts to his work. He also recognized them as candidates for change. As with universities, the issue of museum policies has greater political dimension in Europe than in the United States, since most European museums are government supported. Beuys's ideas on the subject are explained in the interview and drawings for a project in the Netherlands entitled museum in motion.128 He argued that museums had to take part in a "totalized" concept of art and had to work to reverse the fate of culture as an isolated enterprise. Beuys's second drawing during the interview sets up the threefold model of freedom, democracy, and equality. The museum is at the far left, in the realm of culture and freedom, but wide arcs connect it to the spheres of the economy and the democracy; two arrows go back and forth between the realm of art and capital. The drawing repeats the theme that creativity equals capital ("totalisation of art = totalisation of the economy"). In assertive handwriting, the word production is scrawled across the realms of culture, democracy, and the economy: spiritual goods and democratic goods (powers of self- government) are equally as vital to national production as material goods.
In this interview Beuys proposed the museum as a university, which would "equate the concept of creativity with the possibility of shaping the world." He invoked the interdisciplinary nature of an ideal university, where the humanities are not an iso lated pursuit but belong to a general effort directed toward building the future. Beuys also compared the museum to a temple, sketched in the third drawing for museum in motion. He spoke of people's visits to the museum in romantic terms: "they'll be able to concentrate on the intellectual side of human nature which is wholly spiritual, wholly religious: the very thing that gives man human dignity." Correspondingly, Beuys's exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1979 transformed the building into an otherworldly place, slightly dimmed and thick with the smell of wax. At the same time, Beuys used his museum exhibition as an educational vehicle: his own voice spoke through the acoustic guide tape, making
one's visit an introduction to the concept of social sculpture.
The structure of the exhibition at the Guggenheim testified to Beuys's autobiographical view at this time in his life, an attitude reflected in how he dealt with older drawings and in the new sorts of drawings he invented. During the 1970s Beuys made a pointed effort to reclaim for the present his drawings of the 1950s and to demonstrate their significance for his current projects. In a succession of museum and gal lery exhibitions and publications, he presented the early, mystical drawings as critical forerunners to the concept of social sculpture. At the opening of a drawing exhibition in Krefeld in 1974, Beuys described the body of drawings as "material which represents aspects of a central point towards which I wanted to steer. In the course of time this central point has been able to work itself out more and more until it enters into a political dimension." Beuys was steadfast in his insistence that art could provide the beginnings that would help shape humanity's future, as it broadened the sense of what is possible and necessary for the true fulfillment of human potential: "That which one nowadays in the culture of consciousness apprehends by 'understanding something' will certainly not enable one to understand art."
The priority that Beuys attached to his early drawings is most evident in the importance he gave to the exhibition The secret block for a secret person in Ireland in 1974, which he said consisted of drawings "that I have put aside over the years, a few each year here and there." He asserted that "as a whole it represents my selection of thinking forms in evolution over a period of time." Beuys staged this art event in such as way as to declare its potential therapeutic power for contemporary political problems: originating in Oxford, The secret block traveled to London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Belfast. It was the first exhibition to tour both the North and South of a divided Ireland, a country whose myths, culture, and landscape were dear to Beuys's personal universe.
The idea of a "block" had been raised in the catalogue to Beuys's exhibition in Monchengladbach in 1967. The art critic Hans Strelow had observed that the drawing oeuvre "including more than a thousand sheets, sketchbooks and a several-volume free interpretation of Joyce's Ulysses, stands like a block before us." During the next two decades, as Beuys's renown and his circle of devotees grew, he proceeded to cultivate for each collector a block of drawings that parallels, in greatly abbreviated form, the broad span found in the thousands of drawings owned by Hans and Franz Joseph van der Grinten or in the more than four hundred works in The secret block for a secret person in Ireland. Beuys tailored his choices for each individual accord ing to the other works in their collection or the personal interests they shared. Every collector's "block" re-created the arc showing the evolution from Beuys's early imagery to the late diagrammatic drawings that outlined his vision of a new sociopolitical framework. Each carefully configured grouping emphasizes the idea of Beuys's work as continuous research rather than isolated product.
Beuys did not abandon altogether traditional pencil drawing on paper, which maintained its importance in the context of his continuing relationships with individual collectors. As well as finding older drawings for their "blocks," Beuys continued to make new works that recapitulated the mystical themes of the 1950s — mountain landscapes, figures, animals, and energy fields. The current of humor running through Beuys's work often rose closer to the surface, while in other works the mysterious nature of his signs retains the aura of a secret language. The sketchbook continued to be an essential accessory at all times, and the perforated margins of its pages are an omnipresent feature of Beuys's drawings.
Beuys's sketchbook activity culminated in a project for a multiple initiated in 1974, the edition Drawings after the Recently Rediscovered "Codices Madrid of Leonardo da Vinci, During the 1970s Beuys's involvement with multiples rivaled his interest in the individual drawing as a vehicle of personal exploration, as multiple editions permitted him to spread ideas to a large public. The Codices Madrid sketch book is the best example of how Beuys integrated his interest in multiples with the making of new drawings. After the project was proposed to him in 1973, Beuys spent over a year making drawings with the edition in mind, and in 1975 he chose one hundred six from among them to reproduce in the format of the marbleized student composition books he favored The Leonardo drawings strongly recall the Ulysses sketchbooks of 1958-61 both in the quality of their line and the nature of their imagery. But whereas the Joyce notebooks were a private treasure, the purpose of the Leonardo sketchbook, from the beginning, was a public presentation.
It was no accident that Beuys reconnected to the Joyce notebooks at the same time he was preparing to reveal The secret block. Beuys's integration of past and present, of drawing and multiple, also took form in his practice of reclaiming several early drawings to initiate larger series or to convert into multiple editions. A Braunkreuz drawing of 1961 inspired a work of 1976 that exists as a cross between a multiple and a unique object: Beuys painted ninety examples of the same image, titled "Painting Version 1-90." 138 Beuys closely copied the original drawing, Two Sheep Heads (Hole), spreading butter on brown oil paint to outline two shiny animal heads, with one sheep's skull formed from a hole torn through the center of the sheet. The edition signals Beuys's continued interest in the "hole" drawing, first explored in such works as Listening Man from Behind as well as several drawings of 1961 and 1962 in The secret block. In several works of the mid-1970s, Beuys combined earlier "hole" drawings with current ones, such as the untitled work that juxtaposes three oil-covered sheets from 1964, 1974, and 1976.
The print medium offered another opportunity for the regeneration of earlier drawings. The portfolios Trace I and Trace II, dating from 1974 and 1977, each consist of nine color lithographs taken from oil and pencil drawings of previous decades. Trace I returns to Beuys's signature motifs of the 1950s, the stag and the bee, and Trace II presents more enigmatic sculptural gestures. The lithographs provide "traces" of the earlier work as literal reproductions of them. More importantly, they join each of Beuys's objects and installations as the traces of a unified enterprise on which all depend for their meaning.
The continued pleasure that the activity of drawing held for Beuys is evident in his new means of exploring the medium during the last decade of his life. The principle of autobiographical "blocking" generated a large body of drawings that are them selves inventories of Beuys's works, perhaps itemized for a publication or exhibition. Such a manner of working had first appeared in the early 1960s, with Fluxus-related works such as the List with Wolf or Washed-Out List, Double Crossed. In the 1970s Beuys's ink Hauptstrom stamp replaced the Braunkreuz paint that covered the earlier lists. The later lists also have a sculptural identity absent from their predecessors, achieved largely through the effect of repetition and mass ing. Such multipart lists might be composed of groups of ordinary large-sized index cards naming single objects, their dates, and mediums. These cataloguing drawings take on life from the exuberant interplay between Beuys's energetic handwriting and the colored stamps planted around and atop it.
The same principle also underlay more formally conceived series. Democracy Sings made in 1975, unites twenty-five sheets, most of which are plain white typing paper. The ensemble adopts the strategy of Beuys's Life Course/Work Course as it presents a self-portrait in the form of a text retrospective. Some of the sheets contain typed titles of earlier actions, or sections of their scores, all marked by a Hauptstrom stamp. Others are unique pencil drawings, including two studies for the actions Celtic (Kinloch Rannoch) Scottish Symphony and Celtic + in Edinburgh and Basel. One white sheet contains nothing but a round hole at its center, again demonstrating the artist's fascination for this motif of 1961. Beuys brought a personal element into Democracy Sings with the Hauptstrom- stamped room receipt of a hotel in Eindhoven, The Netherlands: The Grand Hotel Silver Sailor ("J. silveren Seepaerd"). Marked 1968, it dates from the year that Beuys's Monchengladbach museum exhibition traveled to Eindhoven. This room receipt is the only drawing for which Beuys designated a sequence within Democracy Sings; it is the last. The sailor, a modernist metaphor for the artist-wanderer, serves as signature piece to the ensemble.
The sense of a complete meshing of life- and work-course informs a new type of drawing that Beuys developed in the 1970s: configurations of pocket diary pages charting his schedule, over which Beuys sketched, wrote, and stamped. Beuys framed many groups of such pages arranged in grids, thus forming sculptural assemblages of the flat sheets. The autobiography that had permeated the content of Beuys's sculp tures and actions now was economically and explicitly presented by the pages of his pocket agendas. Names of collectors, dealers, and acquaintances with whom he met, and the remarkable number of cities he traveled to, form small synopses of the work required by the task of social sculpture.
These agenda drawings testify to the fact that Beuys's work of the 1970s erased the distinction between "art" time and "non-art" time. Beuys's energetic graphic line had always suggested action over time, and his performances made theatrical time a primary vehicle of expression. By 1970, however, the real time of daily activity was synonymous with Beuys's art work. The relationship between space and time implied in the blackboards — the time the lecture took, as well as the time for the individual and social evolution that the diagrams indicated — took concrete form in the ongoing enterprise of the Organization for Direct Democracy, the Free International University, and the Green Party. This life-time was captured in the stamped agenda pages with the same economy of means witnessed in the pictorial drawing of the 1950s, and with the same sense of autobiographical narrative.
Fittingly, an agenda drawing of 1975 was bought by Andy Warhol, a late modernist counterpart in converting an individual life into a work of art. The selection of thirty-five diary pages documents Beuys's schedule from March through December 1974, an astonishing period that included the performance of I Like America, America Likes Me in New York, the four weeks at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London that resulted in the work Directional Forces, and the tour of The secret block for a secret person in Ireland in England, Scotland, and Ireland. The thirty-five sheets, linked by Hauptstrom disks bobbing along the surfaces, include drawings and exclamations as well as schedule notations. Today, the diaristic aspect of the work is compounded by a stamp bearing Warhol's photograph on the lower left corner of the frame (applied by Sotheby's for the sale of his estate in 1988). Warhol was an artist whom Beuys knew only slightly but toward whom he felt great kinship as another individual working to navigate the poles of celebrity and anonymity, individual genius and collective artistry.
Several distinct series of agenda page drawings share the lyrical title Words Which Can Hear, a choice that recalls Beuys's early habit of uniting drawings from different moments under a common name such as "The Life of the Bees" or "The Intelligence of Swans." The cycle originated in 1975 and continued throughout the next several years. These drawings consist of dense patterns of arching pencil lines, formed by words written in a script so tight that they are hardly perceptible as such. The configurations strongly suggest the sound waves these "hearing words" ride, and the voids at the centers of the drawings, reprising the holes found in the drawings from the early 1960s, imply so many listening ears. Beuys's conception of words as sculpture is embodied in the strongly plastic presence of these compilations. In the realm of social sculpture, words provide the means for change. As the series' title substitutes "hearing" for "speaking," it conveys Beuys's insistence on the two-way operation of the sender-receiver relationship: "Communication occurs in reciprocity: it must never be a one-way flow from the teacher to the taught. The teacher takes equally from the taught. So oscillates . . . the master/pupil, transmitter/receiver, relationship." Yet while Words Which Can Hear implies the public dialogue necessary as the basis of Beuys's expanded art concept, the drawings retain the private air of a secret language characteristic of Beuys's earliest drawing.
Such a reconciliation of early and late work also manifests itself in Beuys's last major
series of drawings, Ombelico di Venere—Cotyledon Umbilicus Veneris. This consists of a group of fourteen pressed plant drawings made in Bolognano, Italy, in summer 1985. Later that year Beuys returned to Italy for the creation of Palazzo Regale at the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples. This was Beuys's, most grandly conceived autobiographical installation, an austere and elegant
arrangement of brass-rimmed glass vitrines filled with action objects from the past two decades. The Ombelico drawings share that air of retrospection (and the regal gold tonality of the Palazzo Regale installation) as they return to the genre of botanical collage, one of Beuys's earliest passions.
Beuys's decision to return to his beginnings for his last important drawing project casts his drawing life as a cyclic phenomenon. It affirms his vision of existence as a continuum of births and rebirths. This same cycle is seen in concentrated form in the individual blocks of drawings that Beuys formed for a devoted number of private collectors. These remain largely intact today, still in the houses of specific owners or on deposit at museums in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, and England. In its range of work from beginning to end, each drawing collection supports Beuys's firm insistence that "the drawing holds special meaning for me, because in the early drawings . . . everything is in principle already foreshadowed." The subsequent evolution of his drawings demonstrates Beuys's personal process of self-transformation. The individual drawing, and the sculpture formed by the ensemble of many, document the metamorphosis of thought into form.
1. See "If nothing says anything I don't draw," interview with Heiner Bastian and Jeannot Simmen, in Heiner Bastian et al., Joseph Beuys: Drawings (Berlin, 1979).
2. Caroline Tisdall and Nicholas Serota, eds., Joseph Beuys: The secret block for a secret person in Ireland (Oxford, 1974).
3. Tisdall and Serota, eds., 1974, n.p.
4. See, for example, Theodora Vischer, Beuys und die Romantik: Individuelle Ikonographie, individuelle Mythologie (Cologne, 1983); Axel Hinrich Murken , Joseph Beuys + Die Medizin (Miinster, 1979); and Friedhelm Mennekes,
Beuys zu Christusl Beuys on Christ (Stuttgart, 1989).
5. James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939; New York, 1976), p. 18.
6. Ministerium fur Bundesangelegenheiten des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, Bonn, Beuys vor Beuys: Friihe Arbeiten aus der Sammlung van der Grinten (Cologne, 1987).
7. Interview with Hans van der Grinten,
1973; quoted in Bonn 1987, p. Z47. "Ich versuche, diese Sprachlichkeit in besonders
grosser Fliissigkeit und Beweglichkeit zu halten, um so iiber die Usurpation von Sprache durch Kulturentwicklung und Rationalitat hinauszukommen. . . . Diese Spracherweiterung interessiert mich an der Zeichnung." This lament, long part of the mystic tradition, echoes the attitudes of nineteenth-century Romantics and the Expressionists and Dadaists working during World War I.
8. This citation has been read to mean that Beuys gave a public presentation of Finnegans
Wake at Haus Wylermeer; Franz Joseph van der Grinten believes that the citation is rather a nod to the patroness of Haus Wylermeer, who was translating Finnegans Wake into German (conversation with the author, October 1991).
9. Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (1959; Oxford, 1982), p. 546.
10. Like Joyce, Beuys would organize his art around a strongly autobiographical axis, with the artist's homeland as a central issue in the work. The phonic proximity of their respective surnames would not have been lost on Beuys.
11. SeeJosef Helfenstein and Stefan Frey, eds., Paul Klee: Das Schaffen im Todesjahr (Stuttgart, 1990).
12. See Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, translated by Willard R. Trask (1951; Princeton and London, 1974).
13. Richard Kostelanetz, Conversing with Cage (New York, 1988), pp. 215-16, quoting Cage from C. H. Waddington, Biology and the History of the Future (Edinburgh, 1972).
14. See Hans van der Grinten and Franz Joseph van der Grinten, Matare und Seine Schiiler: Beuys, Haese, Heerich, Meistermann (Hannover,
15. See Friedhelm Mennekes, Beuys on Christ: A Position in Dialogue (Stuttgart, 1989); Wouter Kotte and Ursula Mildner, Das Kreuz als Universalzeichen bei Joseph Beuys (Munich, 1986); Horst Schwebel, Glaubwiirdig: Fiinf Gesprache iiber heutige Kunst und Religion mit oseph Beuys, Heinrich Boll, Herbert Falken, Kurt Martin, und Dieter Wellershoff (Munich, 1:979); and Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum and Museumsverein Aachen, Kreuz + Zeichen: Religiose Grundlagen im Werk von Joseph Beuys (Aachen, 1985).
16. SeeMennekes 1989, p. 13.
17. "Elisabeth Pfister im Gesprach mit Joseph Beuys," November 10, 1984; published in Mennekes 1989, p. 128.
18. Jean Dubuffet, "Anti-Cultural Positions," in
Jean Dubuffet: Towards an Alternative Reality (New York, 1987), p. 132.
19. " Gesprach zwischen J oseph Beuys und Hagen Lieberknecht, Geschrieben von Joseph Beuys," in Joseph Beuys: Zeichnungen, 1947-1959, 1 (Cologne, 1972), p. 13.
20. Beuys echoed the shaman outfitted in woman's dress when he covered his groin with a gauze triangle to switch his sex during the 1965 action and in us .. . under us .. . landunder . . . at the Galerie Parnass, Wuppertal. On the role of the anima, see Carl G. Jung et al., Man and His Symbols (New York, 1964); and Emma Jung, "The Anima as an Elemental Being," translated by Hildegard Nagel, in Animus and Anima (Dallas, 1957)-
21. The use of the term in regard to Beuys's drawings probably originated with Hans and Franz Joseph van der Grinten.
22. Tisdall and Serota, eds., 1974, n.p.
23. See Eliade 1974, pp. 88-99.
24. Tisdall and Serota, eds., 1974, n.p.
25. The legend of Saint Eustace, for example, describes his vision, while hunting in the forest, of Christ on the cross between the antlers of a stag. In Celtic tradition, the stag-horned god named Cernunnos ruled over the hunt and the animal world. On the stag's double significance for the Celts, as both hunting and fertility symbol, see Miranda Green, The Gods of the Celts (Gloucester, 1986), pp. 182-84.
26. "Der Tod des Hirschen in meinen Zeichnungen und anderen Darstellungen ist meistens ein Ergebnis von Schandung und Misserkennen." In conversation with Hagen Lieberknecht in Lieberknecht 1972, p. 17.
27. "Joseph Beuys: Gute Cascadeure sind sehr gesucht" [interview with Ludwig Rinn] in Kunstverein Bremerhaven, Joseph Beuys: Zeichnungen, Objekte (Bremerhaven, 1978), p. 7. See also Mark Rosenthal, Lightning with Stag in Its Glare (Frankfurt, 1991). A precursor to this sculpture was Beuys's 00 action at the matriculation ceremony of the Diisseldorf Academy in 1967, in which his speech to the students took the form of a stag's cries,
predictably infuriating many colleagues.
28. In Beuys's words: "Wenn ich als Kind auf die Burg guckte hatte ich immer den Schwan da vor Augen" ("When, as a child, I looked up at the castle I always had the swan before my eyes"); Lieberknecht 1972, p. 15.
29. On the history of the swan in Kleve legend, see Donald Ware, ed. and trans., The German Legends of the Brothers Grimm (Philadelphia, 1981).
30. Beuys discussed the connection between his theory of sculpture and the activity of the bee in "Gesprach zwischen J. Beuys, B. Blume und H. G. Prager vom 15. 11. 1975 "in Rheinische Bienenzeitung, vol. iz (1975).
31. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, translated by Hazel E. Barnes (New York, 1956), p. 601. See "The Valiant Little Tailor" in The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, introduction by Padraic Colum (1944; New York, 198Z), pp. iiz-zo.
32. Gotz Adriani, Winfried Konnertz, and Karin Thomas, Joseph Beuys: Life and Works, translated by Patricia Lech (1973; Woodbury, N.Y., 1979) pp. 65-66.
33. Franz Joachim Verspohl and Hans van der Grinten ,Joseph Beuys—Projekt Westmensch (New York and Munich, 199Z).
34. Conversation with Caroline Tisdall in Tisdall and Serota, eds., 1974, n.p. Beuys kept a handwritten list that indicated shorthand titles for all of The secret block sheets for identification purposes, but in most cases crossed out his words and replaced them with the lines and question marks that appear in the checklist printed in The secret block catalogue in 1974.
35. The Ulysses sketchbooks were first revealed in the Danish magazine Hvedekorn, which devoted an issue to Beuys in 1966 and published two of the drawings with a text on "Beuys's
Joyce"; Hvedekorn, vol. 40, no. 5, is reprinted
in Kunstmuseum Basel, Emanuel Hoffmann- Stiftung, Joseph Beuys: Werke aus der Sammlung Karl Strdher (Basel, 1969), pp. zz—Z9. The sketchbooks were first exhibited in 1969 at the Kunstmuseum Basel; in the mid-1970s they entered the Marx Collection, Berlin, together with The secret block.
36. "Interviewer: Wie ist Ihre Stellung zur Kunst iiberhaupt? Beuys: Meine Stellung zur Kunst ist gut. Meine Stellung zur Antikunst ebenfalls." "Krawall in Aachen: interview mit Joseph Beuys," Kunst, vol. 4 (1964); reprinted in Basel 1969, p. xz.
37. Rosicrucianism was first heralded publicly by a manifesto entitled "Fama Fraternitatis, or a Discovery of the Fraternity of the Most Laudable Order of the Rosy Cross," published in Kassel in 1614. The manifesto named as father of the fraternity a Christian Rosenkreuz, who in the fifteenth century had brought back to Germany secret wisdom gathered on travels to the East.
The mysterious brotherhood that took up his teachings had since devoted itself to curing the sick. The publication of the manifesto signaled the active beginnings of the Rosicrucian movement, which then spread to England and France. The Rosicrucian seal was a dark cross and a light rose. See Kurt Seligmann, The History of Magic and the Occult (1948; New York, 1978), pp. Z86-94.
38. The anti-Fascist propaganda work of the artist John Heartfield noted the Nazi distortion of cross symbolism; several of the photomontages that Heartfield created for the publication AIZ (Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung ) during the 1930s played on the relationship between the swastika and the Christian cross. See David Evans, John Heartfield: Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung, Volks Illustrierte, 1930-38 (New York, 1992).
39. Examination at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 199Z.
40. This echoes the terminology of Paracelsus, whom Beuys admired. See Henry M. Pachter, Magic into Science: The Story of Paracelsus
(New York, 195 1), p. 56.
41. The interpretation of Braunkreuz as related to Beuys's theory of sculpture was first explored by Martin Kunz in "Christus, Kreuz und Braunkreuz," in Kunstmuseum Luzern, Joseph Beuys: Spuren in Italien (Lucerne, 1979), n.p.
42. Tisdall 1979, p. 134.
43. George Jappe, "Review: Fond IIIvon Joseph Beuys," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ,
February 11, 1967; quoted in Dia Art
Foundation, New York, Joseph Beuys (New York, 1987), p. 16.
44. Anne Seymour writes that Beuys experimented with gray as a signature color
before finally settling on brown; Seymour 1983, p. zi.
45. I am grateful to Paul Paret for noting this connection. See Peter Paret, Beth Irwin Lewis, and Paul Paret, Persuasive Images: Posters of War and Revolution from the Hoover Institution Archives (Princeton, 199Z).
46. The play between sound and silence is fundamental to Beuys's work and to avant-garde art of the time. See Susan Sontag, "The Aesthetics of Silence" (1967), in Sontag, Styles of Radical Will (New York, 1969).
47. Leo Braudy, The Frenzy of Renown (New York, 1986), p. Z7; quoting Alexander Walker, Sex in the Movies (New York, 1968), p. 104.
48. Rauschenberg's work was exhibited at Galerie zz in Diisseldorf, as was that of Cy Twombly, in 1961.
49. Cited in Karin van Maur, "Joseph Beuys und der 'Christusimpuls,' " in Joseph Beuys: Skulpturen und Objekte, edited by Heiner Bastian (Munich, 1988), p. 50.
50. Rudolf Steiner, Rosicrucian Esotericism (Spring Valley,N.Y., 1978), pp. 7-8.
51. Beuys in dialogue with Friedhelm Mennekes, 1984; reprinted in Mennekes 1989, p. 61.
52. Klein's exhibition "Le Vide" was held at the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris in 1958; the canopy and facade of the building were painted in his
eponymous blue, but the gallery interior was an absolutely empty white room.
53. Thomas McEvilley discussed Klein's interpretation of blue in relation to Max Heindel's "Cosmologie des Rose-croix," a reading of Rosicrucianism first published in Paris in 1907. See "Yves Klein: Messenger of the Age of Space," Artforum, vol. zo (January i98z),pp. 39-51;
and "Yves Klein: Conquistador of the Void" and "Yves Klein and Rosicrucianism" in YvesKlein (Houston, 198Z), pp. 19-87 and Z38-54.
54. In Le Journal d'un seul jour, Dimanche (November 27, i960), a four-page newspaper published by Klein, which printed the now-famous photograph of Klein leaping into space from a second-story window.
55. This revolutionary attitude reflects the movement's debt to the work of the Russian avant-garde of the 1910s, a debt echoed in their choice of name. In 19 15 Kasimir Malevich had commented on the title for a new journal: "In view of the fact that we are preparing to reduce everything to nothing, we have decided to call the journal Zero" (letter to M. Matiushin, May 27, 1915; quoted in "Kazimir Malevich, His Creative Path," by Evgenii Kovtun in Kazimir Malevich, 1878-1935 [Leningrad, 1988]).
56. See Stephan von Wiese, "The zero Group: 1958-1966" in German Art in the 20th Century: Painting and Sculpture, 1905-1985, edited by Christos M. Joachimides, Norman Rosenthal, and Wieland Schmied (London and Munich, 1985), pp. 468-69.
57. "Die Eisenklotze sind deshalb so schwer, dass ich mich nicht leichtfertig aus dieser Holle entferne."
58. Such a sentiment is also expressed in Paul Klee's etching of 1905, Hero with the Wing, in which the broken arm and leg of a one-winged "hero" show the futility of his attempt to fly.On the relationship between Beuys, Klee, and German Romanticism, seeJiirgen Glaesemer, "Klee and German Romanticism" in Paul Klee, edited by Carolyn Lanchner (New York, 1987), P- 77-
59. Jorg Schellmann and Bernd Kliiser,Joseph Beuys: Multiples, 5th ed., translated by Caroline Tisdall (New York, 1980), n.p.
60. "Durch die Stauung werden aber die Lichtfarben oder Spektralfarben als Gegenbilder geradezu hervorgetrieben," in Caroline Tisdall, Joseph Beuys: Coyote (Munich, 1976), p. 14. 61. Goethe's Theory of Colours, translated by Charles Lock Eastlake (1810; London, 1967), part iv, p. 39.
62. Wulf Herzogenrath, ed., Selbstdarstellung: Kiinstler iiber sich (Diisseldorf, 1973), p. 30.
63. Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, translated by M.T.H. Sadler (191 1; New York, 1977), p. 6.
64. Wolf Vostell's article "Beuys: Ich bin ein Sender, ich strahle aus," in Berliner Tagesspiegel (December 3, 1964), describing Beuys's action The Chief, 1964, quoted Beuys's declaration, "I am a sender; I radiate out " See Tisdall 1979, P- 94-
65. Beuys provided an uncharacteristically detailed explanation of this work during the interview published in Schellmann and Kliiser 1980, n.p.
66. SeeJohannes Stiittgen, "Die Stempel von Joseph Beuys," in Joseph Beuys: Zeichnungen, Skulpturen, Objekte, edited by Wilfried Dickhoff and Charlotte Werhahn (Diisseldorf, 1988),
67. Beuys's suit hung with work by Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg. See Stephan von Wiese, "Brennpunkt Diisseldorf— eine Chronik," in Kunstmuseum Diisseldorf, Brennpunkt Diisseldorf, 1962-1987 (Diisseldorf, 1987), p. 13.
68. Schellmann and Kluser 1980, n.p.
69. "Kriimmer des Raumes: der Mensch (h)/ Kriimmer der Zeit: der Mensch (h) . . . " Excerpt of text to the action and in us .. . under us . . . landunder, Galerie Parnass, Wuppertal, June 5-6, 1965.
70. See Harald Szeemann, Der Hang zum Gesamtkunstwerk (Zurich, 1980).
71. Allan Kaprow's Eighteen Happenings in Six Parts, the performance that gave the American movement its name, involved precise individual scripts for each performer and many days of rehearsals. See Michael Kirby, Happenings: An Illustrated Anthology (New York, 1966); and Gregory Battcock and Robert Nickas, eds., The Art of Performance : A Critical Anthology (New York, 1984).
72. Since the early 1960s, the Viennese Actionists —most importantly Giinter Brus,
Otto Miihl, Hermann Nitsch, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler —staged explicitly violent and disturbing actions in an effort to expose societal repression and challenge deep taboos concerning death and sexuality. See Hermann Nitsch, Orgien Mysterien Theater (Darmstadt, 1969); and Dieter
Schwarz, Veit Loers, and Hubert Klocker, eds., VienneseAktionism (Klagenfurt, Austria, 1988).
73. George Maciunas, "Manifesto," 1963, reproduced in Fluxus: Selections from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection, edited by Clive Phillpot and Jon Hendricks (New York, 1988), frontispiece.
74. SeeMaurice Berger, Labyrinths: Robert Morris, Minimalism, and the 1960s (New York, 1989); and Henry M. Sayre, The Object of Performance (Chicago and London, 1989).
75. Tisdall 1979, p. 95. The incident in Aachen in 1964 proved the possibly explosive response to Beuys's actions; the action I Attempt to Set (Make) YouFree in Berlin in 1969 was also disrupted. See Rene Block, "Fluxus and Fluxism in Berlin, 1964-1976," in Berlinart, 1961-1987, edited by Kynaston McShine (New York and Munich, 1987), pp. 75-76.
76. Kunstverein fiir die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Diisseldorf Kunsthalle, "Dada: Dokumente einer Bewegung," September 5- October 19, 1958.
77. SeeJohn Anthony Thwaites, "Dada Hits West Germany," Arts, February 1959, pp. 31-37. 78. Stadtisches Museum Haus Koekkoek, K1eve, Josef Beuys: Zeichnungen, Aquarelle, Oelbilder, Plastische Bilder aus der Sammlung van der Grinten (Kleve, 1961). On Satie, see Richard Kostelanetz, ed., Conversing with Cage (New York, 1988), pp. 48-50.
79. Kostelanetz, ed., 1988, p. 183.
80. Beuys used Cage's example in discussing innovation in an interview in 1964: Beuys noted that "Zen was very important for Cage, but
he made the Cage method out of it, which is something new." See "Plastik und Zeichnung: Interview mit Professor Beuys," Kunst, vol. 4 (October 1964); reprinted in Basel 1969, p. 13 (author's translation).
81. See Nam June Paik, Beuys Vox (Seoul,
1986). Paik and Beuys first performed in the same context at the "Festum Fluxorum Fluxus" at the Diisseldorf Academy in February 1963. Their last collaboration was "Memorial to George
Maciunas," performed on July 7, 1979, also at the academy.
82. The principle of movement had a central place in Beuys's theory of sculpture, which described the passage from chaos to form as one that took place through motion. See Dieter Koepplin, "Fluxus: Bewegung im Sinne von Joseph Beuys," in Joseph Beuys: Plastische Bilder, 1947-1970 (Stuttgart, 1990), pp. 20-35.
83. Anne Seymour, "The Drawings of Joseph Beuys," in Joseph Beuys: Drawings (London,
1984), p. 13.
84. Although Beuys retroactively dated the drawing 1959, it seems likely to have been made a few years later.
85. Tisdall 1979, p. 39. One of the heavily annotated books in Beuys's library was The Bog People: Iron Age Man Preserved, by P. V. Glob, translated by Rupert Bruce-Mitford (1965;
Ithaca, 1969). See Eva Beuys, Wenzel Beuys, and Jessyka Beuys , Joseph Beuys: Block Beuys (Munich, 1990), p. 330.
86. See Flans van der Grinten, "Joseph Beuys 'Stallausstellung' —Fluxus 1963 in Kranenburg,"
in Die Kunst der Austellung, edited by Bernd Kliiser and Katharine Flegewisch (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1991), pp. 172.-77-
87. Several of Schwitters's plays are reprinted in Dada Performance, edited by Mel Gordon (New York, 1987), pp. 96-101.
88. See The Fluxus Performance Workbook (Trondheim, Norway, 1990).
89. See also the multiple A Party for Animals, 1969; Jorg Schellmann, ed., Joseph Beuys: Die Multiples, 7th ed. (Munich and New York, 1992), no. 11.
90. Beuys's piano sheet-music during the action
Siberian Symphony was overpainted with Braunkreuz, for example; the 1964 action at Aachen, The Silence of Marcel Duchamp Is Overrated and Coyote ... in 1974 included objects painted with Braunkreuz.
91 . For further descriptions of the action, Adriani, Konnertz, Thomas, 1979, pp. 126-30; and Tisdall 1979, pp. 95—100.
92. An English translation of the typescript is reprinted in Tisdall 1979, pp. 98—100; the
original is published in Basel 1969, pp. 16-18. It was published as a booklet by Verlag Hansen and Hansen, Itzehoe-Losskate, in 1965.
93. Stiftung Museum Schloss Moy land, Collection van der Grinten, Kranenburg. Two pages of the sketchbooks are reproduced in Basel 1969, pp. 20-21.
94. See Tisdall 1979, p. 99.
95. Ibid. Beuys's concepts of time and countertime, and so forth, can be related to George Maciunas's formulations in the essay "Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art," 1962; reprinted in Phillpot and Hendricks, eds., 1988, pp. 25-27.
96. See Tisdall 1979, p. 99.
97. Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, edited by Richard Hamilton, translated by George Heard Hamilton (London and New York, i960).
98. See Kynaston McShine, Information (New York, 1970); Ursula Meyer, Conceptual Art (New York, 1972); and Lucy Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object (New York, 1973)-
99. Score published in ta [Copenhagen], vol. 1, no. 4 (1967), p. 10; reprinted in Basel 1969, p. 32. 100. Interviews with Norgaard and Christiansen in Copenhagen and Mon, Denmark, August 1989. Beuys and Christiansen had become friends after they met at the Aachen "Festival for New Art" in 1964. Norgaard was a student at the art academy in Copenhagen.
101. For further description see Friedhelm Mennekes, "Beuys in manresa" in Mennekes et
al., Beuys: Manresa (Cologne, 1991), pp. 20—25. 102. "Nun? 1st Element 2 zu Element 1 heraufgestiegen/Nun? 1st Element 1 zu Element 2 heruntergestiegen?" See Basel, 1969, p. 32.
103. "Hier spricht Fluxus/ Fluxus . . . ." "Guten Tag, wo gehen Sie hin?/Thorvaldsen-Museum . . . ." The Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen was
built as a monument to the renowned Danish
sculptor Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844).
104. "Auch zu dir fliege ich Manresa." Friends recount that Beuys liked to recite "Anna Blume" from memory. "Anna Blume," is reprinted in
Hans Richter, Dada Art and Anti-Art, translated
by David Britt (New York, 1965), p. 141.
105. Schellmann 1992, no. 4
106. The first half of the list is a drawing in the Stiftung Museum Schloss Moyland, Collection
van der Grinten, Kranenburg; reproduced in Mennekes 199 1, p. 49.
107. Kandinsky  1977, p. 6. See also Rose-Carol Washton Long, Kandinsky: The Development of an Abstract Style (Oxford, 1980), chapter 2.
108. Kandinsky  1977, p. 9.
109. Tisdall 1979, p. 113.
110. The same action's performance at the Wide
White Space in Antwerp in 1968 served as the basis for a film and a book. See Anny de Decker, ed ., Joseph Beuys: Eur asianstab (Antwerp, 1987). hi. See Carl Haenlein and Franz Joseph van der Grinten, Joseph Beuys: Eine innere Mongolei (Hannover, 1990).
112. For further description of the action, see Tisdall 1979, pp. 142—46.
113. "Joseph Beuys: Gute Cascadeure sind sehr gesucht," [interview with Ludwig Rinn] in Bremerhaven 1978, pp. 17-18. An additional drawing from Hauptstrom is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum Kroller-Miiller, Otterlo.
114. Several drawings related to the action Iphigenie/Titus Andronicus, which was
performed in Frankfurt in 1969 (see Tisdall 1979, p. 182), are in the collections of Jost Herbig (at the Neue Galerie in Kassel) and Lothar Schirmer, Munich.
115. Joseph Beuys, "Talking About One's Own Country: Germany," in Wilfried Wiegand et al., Joseph Beuys: In Memoriam Joseph Beuys; Obituaries, Essays, Speeches, translated by Timothy Nevill (Bonn, 1986), p. 38. The statement is probably a paraphrase of Rudolf Steiner's statement, "The whole world except man is a puzzle, the real world-riddle; and man himself is its solution." See Steiner, The Story of My Life (London and New York, 1928), p. 230.
116. See Deborah Wye, Committed to Print (New York, 1988); Therese Schwartz, "The Politicization of the Avant-Garde," Art in America, November-December 1971, pp. 96-105; March-April 1972, pp. 70-79; March-April 1973, pp. 67-71; January- February 1974, pp. 80-84; and Lucy Lippard, "The Art Workers' Coalition," 1970, in Get the Message ? A Decade of Art for Social Change (New York, 1984), pp. 10-22.
117. "Any place will do where something can happen to broaden the concept [of art], whether it's in parliament, in church, in a museum, in
the street, in a commune, in a working class neighbourhood or in a factory." Joseph Beuys, interview with Frans Haks in museum in motion? the modern art museum at issue, edited by Carel Blotkamp et al. (The Hague, 1979), p. 180.
118. Lieberknecht 1972.
119. Paul Klee, Pedagogical Sketchbook,
translated by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy (1925; London, 1968).
120. This statement appears on a drawing of 1969; Bastian et al. 1979, cat. no. 94.
121. SeeRudi Lissau, Rudolf Steiner: Life, Work, Inner Path, and Social Initiatives (Stroud, Great Britain, 1987).
122. Rudolf Steiner, Rudolf Steiner : Wandtafelzeichnungen zum Vortragswerk (Dornach, 1990), vols. 1-28.
123. This lecture took place at the invitation of Volker Harlan; see Harlan, Was ist Kunst?: Werkstattgesprach mit Beuys (Stuttgart, 1986), p. 122-23.
124. SeePachter 1951,Appendix D.
125. Institute of Contemporary Arts, London,
Art into Society, Society into Art (London, 1974), p. 9. This exhibition was inspired by an exhibition entitled "Art in the Political Struggle" at the Kunstverein in Hannover.
126. He told the exhibition organizers that he would be absent only during those days he had to be in Belfast for the opening of A secret block for a secret person in Ireland. Ibid., p. 9.
127. Quoted in Christos M. Joachimides, Joseph Beuys: Richtkrafte (Berlin, 1977), p. 7.
128. Blotkamp, ed., 1979.
129. Ibid., p. 184.
130. Ibid., p. 192.
131. "Speech by Joseph Beuys at the Opening of
His Exhibition 'Drawings 1946-1971' in the Haus Lange Museum, Krefeld, on May 19, 1974," in London 1974, p. 52.
133. Oxford 1974, n.p.
134. "Weit liber tausend Blatter, Skizzenbiicher
und eine mehrbandige vollkommen freie Interpretation des 'Ulysses' von Joyce umfassend, steht wie ein Block vor uns." Hans Strelow, "Joseph Beuys als Zeichner," in Stadtisches Museum Monchengladbach, Beuys (Monchengladbach, 1967). This may well have echoed Beuys's own language: Dieter Koepplin writes that the van der Grintens report him using the term in the mid-1960s; Koepplin, Joseph Beuys: The secret block for a secret person in Ireland, edited by Heiner Bastian (Munich, 1988), p. 21.
135. Many issued catalogues of their personal collections. See, for example, Historisches Museum, St. Gallen, Joseph Beuys-Sammlung Lutz Schirmer Koln (St. Gallen, 1971); and Kunstverein Bremerhaven, Joseph Beuys: Zeichnungen, Objekte [Collection Ludwig Rinn] (Bremerhaven, 1978).
136. Zeichnungen zu den 1965 wiederentdeckten beiden Skizzenbiichern "Codices Madrid" von Leonardo da Vinci, Manus Presse, Stuttgart, in 1975; Schellmann 1992, nos. 165-85.
137. Ninety-six of the original drawings are now owned by the Dia Center for the Arts, New York. More of Beuys's drawings for the Leonardo project, not selected to be reproduced in the sketchbook edition, are in private collections. See Ann Temkin, "Spiegelschrift: Beuys' Zeichnungen zu Leonardos 'Codices Madrid,' " in Joseph Beuys —Tagung, Basel 1.-4. Mai 1991, edited by Volker Harlan, Dieter Koepplin, and Rudolf Velhagen (Basel, 1991), pp. 183-89.
138. Schellmann 1992, no. 186.
139. Schellmann 1992, nos. 109-17 and 195-203.
140. The penultimate drawing of the Codices Madrid, a profile view of a stag, is made on a similar hotel notice.
141. SeeJohannes Stiittgen, Das
Warhol— Beuys —Ereignis (Wangen, 1979). 142. Joseph Beuys, "I am searching for field character," in London 1974, p. 48.
143. "Die Zeichnung ist aber fur mich von besonderer Bedeutung, weil in den alteren Zeichnungen bis 1947 zuriick im Prinzip alles bereits vorgezeichnet ist." "Plastik und Zeichnung: Interview mit Professor Beuys," Kunst, vol. 4 (1964); reprinted in Basel 1969, p. 13.