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. 

Metropolis M: Ann Goldstein

Metropolis M asked me to comment on the departure of Ann Goldstein from the Stedelijk Museum, and the resulting text has now been published in the December-January print issue (in Dutch; the English version will probably show up online at some point). The text is titled "Not Wanting to Write Anything About Ann,"  which is obviously a play on John Cage's Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel.

Somehow this seemed to fit my reluctance to get into the fray of Dutch art-world politics and let my agenda be determined, even negatively, by Dutch newspapers and their penchant for focusing on museum directors and their alleged character flaws — flaws which, in the eyes of some vocal and vicious hacks, can encompass being foreign, or being a woman. The text thus analyses what has happened to Ann Goldstein, who has left the Stedelijk prematurely, as a disconcerting symptom of a wider and fundamental disfunction of public discourse in the Netherlands.