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13-01-2021

Artists and Ecology: Joseph Beuys

Brief journey of a profound artistic and human experience of self-discovery

Clewoo is inspired by the work of those artists that strongly advocated the necessity for cooperation with nature, and we are committed to perpetuate this responsibility towards our planet. Our goal is to act consciously and limit the impact of human behavior on nature, while redefining the concept of success in business.

Amongst our main source of inspiration, Joseph Beuys stands out for the idea of the expanded concept and social role of art that lies at the core of its artistic expression.

Joseph Beuys. The shaman artist, the father of the modern ecological thinking. Studying his works is getting lost in a refined poetics, structured around objects, contraptions, performances and places.

“We plant trees and the trees then plant us
Defending nature means defending man”

Death and rebirth: his life

Joseph Beuys was born in Krefeld, a German town in North Rhine-Westphalia, in 1921.
In his 20s, Beuys volunteered for the Luftwaffe, starting as a aircraft radio operator and then moving on to be an aviator.

In 1942, while being stationed in Crimea, during an offensive against the Russians, his plane was shot down, crashing into the frozen grasslands; he laid unconscious with his dead companion beside him, until he was rescued by a group of Tartars, traveling to escape from the war. They treated him curing his wounds with an ancient traditional medicine, anointing him with animal fat and keeping him wrapped in heavy felt blankets.

A total experience that represents a spiritual rebirth: the driving force to express oneself in an artistic research so enigmatic and complex, fascinating and mysterious.

The centrality of man

hese biographical premises briefly introduce Beuys and his spirituality. He urges to investigate the role of human beings and nature, and the profound enigma of the creation.

The intimate and deep relationship with the plant and animal world granted Beuys the nickname of "shaman artist”.

Beuys believes that man lies at the center of the creation and he must behave responsibly. That is to say: creating art and living within art.

The deepest core of Beuys' poetics is that art remains silent if the observer doesn't become an active part of it. Without an audience the opera does not exist.

 

One day in 1982, 7000 Oaks in Kassel

This conception is at the core of the piece 7000 Oaks (1982), made for the exhibition Documenta VII, in Kassel. The creative genius of Beuys conceived a performance involving the active participation of the public.

In response to the excessive urbanization, Beuys placed7,000 basalt monoliths in Kassel Square, creating the shape of a mountain. Beuys offered the stones for sale to the citizens of Kassel, with the promise to plan an oak for each sold stone.

As of 1987 (a year after Beuys’ death), all the monoliths were “adopted” by the citizen of Kassel, and a new oak forest arose around the city.

Planting a tree is an action impacting the society as a whole, as it changes the urban, natural and social context. The art piece lives, speaks, grows, develops new life, and gives comfort, shade and shelter.

Art for the future

Beuys is a progressive ecologist, who does not merely condemn, but instead decides to think and act, with a firm look to the future.

His lesson is strong: every individual action has the power to transform the world in a moral, social, philosophical as well as ecological sense.

Beuys' art is an act of empowerment, telling us not to forget the world. Because, as he loved to repeat, we are the revolution.

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