press release

The influential German artist Joseph Beuys regarded multiples as a crucial aspect of his activity that, because of their low cost and reproducibility, could communicate his ideas to great numbers of people. He made nearly 600 multiples from 1965 to 1985 in myriad forms: in addition to graphic works--woodcuts, etchings, lithographs, and screenprints--there are found objects, photographs, records, audio cassettes, videotapes, films, books, leaflets, posters, postcards, printed matter, and works that inventively combine these media. The themes explored in the multiples echo and restate those addressed in every other realm of his activity, from politics, teaching, and environmental activism to sculpture, performance, and drawing, thus providing access to the full range of his ideas.

Joseph Beuys Multiples, the first major exhibition devoted to the multiples, is drawn from the Walker's Alfred and Marie Greisinger Collection of more than 450 multiples, which has not yet been publicly presented. It introduces a general audience to Beuys' work through a focused look at more than 300 multiples. In order to clarify the connections to his larger body of work, the exhibition also includes documentary photographs, videos, audio, and a small number of unique works. This material is arranged in thematic sections based on key concepts in his work, such as Nature, Communication, and Teaching and Learning, offering viewers unfamiliar with Beuys a variety of paths into the work and demonstrating how ideas transcend the boundaries of media. An in-gallery information office serves as a lively, informal space in which visitors can participate in organized discussions, attend gallery talks, and read catalogues or watch videos on the artist.

Joseph Beuys Joseph Beuys (1921 - 1986) is one of the most celebrated artists to have come of age in post-World War II Europe. His life was a gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork) into which he poured all of his abundant energy, passion, and creative genius. His artistic activity--powerfully evocative sculptures, multiples, drawings, films, and performance events--is inseparable from his political activism, his teaching, and the charismatic persona he shaped for himself as shaman, prophet, and visionary. Beuys believed wholeheartedly in the power of art to effect social change. Today, his influence can be seen in the work of a generation of artists who absorbed his ideas about the unity of life, art, and the social organism.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Walker is collaborating with the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University to publish the English-language edition of Jörg Schellmann's catalogue raisonné Joseph Beuys: Die Multiples. The exhibition travels to the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska (June 27-August 30, 1998); the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida (September 27-December 6, 1998); the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (May 9-July 25, 1999); the Barbican Art Gallery, London (September 30- December 12, 1999); and the San Jose Museum of Art (February 5-April 16, 2000).

This exhibition is part of the Walker Art Center's "New Definitions/New Audiences" initiative. This museum-wide project to engage visitors in a reexamination of 20th-century art is made possible by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund.

Curator: Joan Rothfuss, Walker Art Center

Joseph Beuys Multiples

Joseph Beuys

Joan Rothfuss