Artist Rooms: Joseph Beuys
The Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum, 26 October – 1 February 2014
Joseph Beuys was one of the most influential artists of the late 20th century, a political activist and philosopher who believed in the social function of art. A childhood fascination with the natural world provided the themes that Beuys would spend his career exploring, across a vast body of work ranging from drawing to performance. Watch out for special events and activities alongside the exhibition, celebrating Beuys’ belief that Everyone is an Artist.
In later years, Beuys referred to the 1950s as a period of preparation, which he spent reading and making hundreds of drawings which influenced his later sculpture and performance art.
In Ice Age Beuys has drawn several shapes representing the outline of a wooly mammoth. Animals of all kind appear in Beuys’s drawings and the mammoth represents not only nature but also pre-history. He was fascinated by anything which served as a reminder of the earth’s great age, from rock formations to fossil fuels.
The tiny swan in Pregnant Woman with Swan (1959) looks as if it is swimming serenely inside the woman, replacing the foetus inside her pregnant body. For Beuys, swans were symbol of his home town of Kleve (Worcester’s twin town) and, by association, childhood.
ARTIST ROOMS currently features the work of 35 artists and includes major room-sized installations and important groups of works by figures such as Diane Arbus, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Koons, jannis Kounellis, Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Nauman, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol. The collection is called ARTIST ROOMS because it is intended to be shown through displays and exhibitions devoted to individual artists.
ARTIST ROOMS On Tour is an inspired partnership with the Art Fund – the fundraising charity for works of art, making available the ARTIST ROOMS collection of international contemporary art to galleries throughout the UK.
ARTIST ROOMS is jointly owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland and was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments.