Texte zur Kunst no. 92: Joseph Beuys

Issue no. 92 of Texte zur Kunst contains my review of H.P. Riegel's biography of Joseph Beuys. The text's punning title, "Cleves and Tartars," was an inspired find by the editors.

I take this German-language biography as an occasion to discuss the reception of Beuys's work in general, which has long been marked by a deadlock between uncritical adoration and complete critical rejectionIn recent years, this has started to change somewhat. 

Riegel's biography might spark a throwback, as the author has diligently gathered incriminating evidence that makes it really tempting to dismiss Beuys as an inveterate mythologizer and liar, dabbler in esoteric nonsense, and friend of right-wing creeps. 

While this material obviously needs to be taken into account, I argue that biographical reductionism must be avoided when coming to terms with the remains and the afterlife of Beuys's practice. The review is online here

Image: Joseph Beuys, Kitschpostkarte 2, 1980.