The Second World War and an Artistic Missionary

The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf exhibits circa 300 works of Joseph Beuys (1921-1986). Beuys not only expanded the concept of the work of art: he also believed in the power of art to change people, and he imagined both social and artistic utopias, surrounded in a kind of mythological environment. He wanted to reveal the roots of the human being and thinking. Beuys is a product of European history and the Second World War in particular. As a fighter pilot of the German Luftwaffe, he was a witness and a participant of a devastating war. After the war, he tried to come to terms by means of art. A number of installations, on loan from major museums and private collections, are leaving their permanent locations for the Düsseldorf exhibition the first time since the death of the artist. Shown in Europe now for the first time is the large-scale installation “Stripes from the house of the shaman 1964-72” (1980). Also featured is a comprehensive selection of drawings, objects, plastic images, and relics from Beuys’s actions, all of which establish interrelationships between art and life in singular ways.