12 rooms in Artist and Society
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Learn about how teaching, lectures and political activism were essential elements of Beuys's work as an artist
In 1972 the Tate Gallery invited Beuys to take part in an exhibition programme. The request came at short notice to help fill a gap in the Gallery’s schedule. Beuys was one of seven artists to exhibit or perform. All the artists were chosen for their unconventional or experimental work.
During the 1970s Beuys developed the role of the artist as teacher. In his actions and exhibitions he outlined theories of creativity and the relationship between art and society. The centrepiece of his Tate exhibition was a performance entitled Information Action. For six and a half hours, Beuys discussed art, politics and the idea of using art as a force for change.
The blackboards shown here were used in Information Action, and in a related event at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. Since the mid-1960s, Beuys had used blackboards in his performances as carriers of information that he could alter as the event progressed. Many of them were preserved as records of his actions. They are now seen as artworks in their own right.
Joseph Beuys, Four Blackboards 1972
During the 1970s, Beuys lectured extensively on art and politics, and the task of creating a genuinely democratic society. This series of three blackboards were used to illustrate an event held at Tate in 1972, in which Beuys discussed his ideas about communication and grassroots democracy. A fourth blackboard, not displayed here, was used during a subsequent lecture at the Whitechapel Gallery.
Gallery label, March 2003
artworks in Joseph Beuys
Art in this room
New perspectives on the work of Joseph Beuys and his engagement with European history, mythology and geopolitics
Artworks that are created through actions performed by the artist or other participants, which may be live or recorded