100 years ago Joseph Beuys was born: here are the Italian initiatives to remember him

On May 12, 1921, Joseph Beuys, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, was born in Krefeld, Germany: here are the Italian online and in-person initiatives to remember him.

All over Italy, starting May 9, there will be various events to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Joseph Beuys, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century: so there will be space for online events, debates, exhibitions and film reviews to remember the role of one of the most emblematic artists of the postwar period. Action artist, activist, environmentalist, sculptor, performer, designer and professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, Joseph Beuys was born in Krefeld on May 12, 1921. And to the German artist whose ideas, works and political engagement had a significant impact on the postwar international art scene, the Goethe-Institut, Germany’s public cultural institute, and various institutions and museums are dedicating numerous projects and collaborations in Italy and around the world. Here are some of the events, all of which have the Goethe-Institut as a partner.

In Naples on May 9 there will be a round table discussion via Facebook, Beuys and Naples, inaugurating the year dedicated to Beuys. It will be organized by Casa Morra - Archives of Contemporary Art with a talk featuring critics and experts who, as in the case of Achille Bonito Oliva, Mario Franco or Italo Tomassoni, personally followed the artist’s path in Italy. The event will be broadcast live on Facebook at 5 p.m. on Casa Morra’s Facebook page. Also at Casa Morra, an exhibition also titled Beuys and Naples curated by Giuseppe Morra will open on May 11, gathering the cultural legacy from the artist’s stays in Naples and Italy between 1971 and 1985. The exhibition will include the screening of five films in the spaces of the Mario Franco Archives: the Neapolitan director is credited with the most complete film documentation of the collaboration between Lucio Amelio and Beuys starting with the first exhibition La rivoluzione siamo noi (1971) at the Modern Art Agency. In the spaces of the Foundation it will also be possible to see a photographic series by Gerardo Di Fiore, a selection of multiples and an unpublished photographic documentation by Vettor Pisani on Beuys’ historic contribution to Documenta 5 (1972). The exhibition’s itinerary closes with an appendix to the permanent room dedicated to the German artist, set up in 2017 with materials donated by Lucrezia De Domizio Durini: an in-depth look at Defense of Nature in Bolognano, where on May 13, 1984, Beuys opened a space for public discussion on the themes of the defense of nature and individual creativity. Open by reservation Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Films will be shown every Wednesday at 6 p.m. by reservation (except July and August) in the Mario Franco Archives spaces. For info and reservations: casamorra@fondazionemorra.org; archivimariofranco@fondazionemorra.org.

From May 12 to 16, Beuys will be told in six films online: in fact, it will be possible to stream a review on Beuys on the online platform.artecinema.com. A selection of six films, curated by Laura Trisorio, featuring, among others, Joseph Beuys: I Like America and America Likes Me, a short film by Helmut Wietz tracing the three days in New York in 1974 when Beuys was locked in a cage with a coyote. Then again Joseph Beuys, John Halpern ’s Transformer, a documentary filming the artist during the mounting of his major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York; Andres Veiel’s Beuys, released in cinema in 2017, reconstructs Joseph Beuys’ life between art, teaching and politics restoring the climate of debates, resistance and utopia in which the charismatic German artist operated.

The Neapolitan events with the German artist will continue in June, with a retrospective at the Madre museum and a radio project, Beuysradio, a series of Podcasts that the Goethe-Institut has produced to recall the deputies of the artist’s life, of which one will be dedicated to Naples.

In Milan, artists, performers and students are coming together to celebrate Beuys: the first event is organized by Teatro Out Off. It is MAESTRI. Let’s meet them! JOSEPH BEUYS 100 years after his birth, a program of online events, performances and an exhibition. From May 11 to 15, it will be possible to follow five evenings live streaming, on the Out Off Theater’s social channels, which with performances, meetings, readings and screenings will explore the different areas of the German artist’s thought. The program is curated by Manuela Gandini, art critic and lecturer at NABA in Milan, and Susanna Schoenberg, filmmaker, media and performance artist and lecturer at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. Participating in the events will be artists, such as Marza Migliora and Michelangelo Pistoletto, actors, such as Alessandro Bergonzoni, architects, such as Stefano Boeri, and then again performers, theorists, doctors, poets, critics and farmers, participating from Germany and beyond. Also remembering the figure of Beuys as a teacher, there will be participation by students from the Düsseldorf Academy, where the Master taught and from which he was removed for his libertarian and inclusive methods.

Also, from May 11 to Dec. 19 on the premises of the Out Off Theater will be the exhibition Der Fehler fängt schon an, wenn einer sich anschickt Keilrahmen und Leinwand zu kaufen curated by Patrizio Peterlini. The exhibition takes its title from Beuys’ famous 1985 manifesto, “Things start going wrong when someone goes to buy a loom and a canvas.” A statement of radical rupture with the traditional art world and testifying to the German master’s choice to work in an anthropological dimension for the realization of what he called a social sculpture. The exhibition presents a selection of editions and posters from the Luigi Bonotto Collection with particular reference to three thematic areas: “I love America and America loves me,” with the presentation of the integral video of the 1974 performance; “Defense of Nature,” an important operation carried out by the German artist during the last fifteen years of his life (some actions also took place in Italy, in Bolognano, a mountain village in the Abruzzi, an event also recalled in the exhibition at Beuys in Naples); and finally, the foundation of the Free International University and his political commitment to a Direct Democracy.

May 12 at 6 p.m., Beuys’ birthday, will be followed by readings from Beuys with actress Giulia Amato and planting of an oak tree in the small park on Mac Mahon Street. The ceremony, citing Joseph Beuys’ work “7000 Oaks” presented in Kassel for the 1982 “Documenta,” is meant to symbolize the relationship between art and nature at the heart of the Master’s thinking. Several initiatives will also be held in Rome, including a talk at the Goethe-Institut in the fall and a screening of the film Beuys by Andres Veiel, in collaboration with the German Embassy.

Finally, in Bolognano (Pescara), on May 12 and 13 there will be two days of meetings in memory of Joseph Beuys, which will include the presentation of Lucrezia De Domizio Durini’s book Vergogna e verità (Mondadori Electa) and the inauguration of the Paradise Museum Joseph Beuys, designed by architect Maurizio De Caro, at the behest of Lucrezia De Domizio Durini herself.

100 years ago Joseph Beuys was born: here are the Italian initiatives to remember him
100 years ago Joseph Beuys was born: here are the Italian initiatives to remember him

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