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Conversation with Joseph Beuys

Edited With Essays By Volker Harlan

Click for a large cover of WHAT IS ART?.

"An intimate dialogue with Joseph Beuys, arguably the most important and radical artist of the late twentieth century, which takes us into the deeper motivations and understandings underlying 'social sculpture' and his expanded conception of art." - Shelley Sacks, Artist and Director of the Social Sculpture Research Unit, Oxford Brookes University.

"It is arguable that Beuys was the first artist of the twenty-first century. Like Rudolf Steiner, he was passionately concerned with the history of ideas and the points of interface between manifestations of the arts and sciences as well as philosophy, religion, economics and politics." - Richard Demarco, OBE, Professor Emeritus, European Cultural Studies, Kingston University, Surrey.

"Joseph Beuys was one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. He was one of the first German artists to engage with his country's turbulent and destructive recent history. His art embraced processes of political renewal within society, the search for an appropriate spiritual approach in our times, and a belief in the creative potential in each individual." - Sean Rainbird, Senior Curator, Tate Collection.

"Twenty years after his death, Beuys is still the most inspirational artist of modern times. No other figure has so moved people to find their own creativity and to innovative solutions to the biggest environmental threats facing our planet." - Professor Caroline Tisdall, Oxford Brookes University.

"The revolutionary artistic ideas and artwork of Joseph Beuys are still, decades later, one of the strongest influences on contemporary artists. His work bursts open the enclosed world of visual art to encompass political and social reform, environmentalism, education, economics, spiritual science, and the proposal that art is not properly an activity for 'experts' but for everyone." - David Adams, Ph.D., Art History faculty, Sierra College, California.

Joseph Beuys's work continues to influence and inspire practitioners and thinkers all over the world, in areas from organizational learning, direct democracy and new money forms to new art pedagogies and ecological art practices. Here, in dialogue with Volker Harlan - a close colleague, whose own work also revolves around understandings of substance and sacrament that are central to Beuys - the deeper motivations and insights underlying 'social sculpture', Beuys's expanded conception of art, are illuminated. His profound reflections, complemented with insightful essays by Volker Harlan, give a sense of the interconnectedness between all life forms, and the foundations of a path towards an ecologically sustainable future. This volume features over 40 b/w illustrations.

JOSEPH BEUYS - alchemist, social visionary and artist - was born in 1921 in Germany. In 1961 he became Professor of Monumental Sculpture at the DÜsseldorf Academy, but was expelled in 1972. Following his first gallery 'action' in 1965, 'Teaching Paintings to a Dead Hare', his international reputation grew. In 1979 he was honoured with a major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York. He died in 1986, just after receiving the prestigious Lehmbruck Prize. Beuys left behind him not only numerous large-scale installations and site-works, hundreds of provocative multiples and small objects, thousands of drawings, documented social sculpture forums about energy, new money forms and direct democracy, but above all a methodology and ideas like 'parallel process' and 'social sculpture'.

VOLKER HARLAN was born in 1938 in Dresden, Germany. He studied arts, biology and theology, and was a priest of the Christian Community until 2001. He is a cofounder of the private University of Witten-Herdecke, and a lecturer on the philosophy of nature and aesthetics. His doctorate has been published under the title Das Bild der Pflanze in Wissenschaft und Kunst. He was a friend of Beuys from 1972 until Beuys's death in 1986.

Published in the UK by Clairview Books, 22nd November 2004

£14.99; 128pp; 25 x 19 cm; paperback; ISBN 9781905570072