Joseph Beuys: Beuys in America



ISBN: 9783958299139 Category:

Joseph Beuys, Klaus Staeck


On 9 January 1974, Joseph Beuys, together with Klaus Staeck and Gerhard Steidl, traveled for the first time to America. This trip was by no means a mere visit, but a carefully planned performance that took place in airplanes, taxis, hotels, universities and galleries, and was comprehensively documented in photographs and video. The tour began with a packed lecture at New York’s New School, visited by artists including Claes Oldenburg, Lil Picard and Al Hansen, in which Beuys enthralled his audience for hours explaining his specific model of social sculpture and filling three large blackboard with drawings.

The next stop was Chicago, the site of more controversial lectures and an unexpected performance: on happening to pass the Biograph movie theatre, Beuys spontaneously reenacted the death of American gangster John Dillinger who had been cornered by police in the theatre, chased into a nearby alley and shot dead. Beuys’ tour then reached Minneapolis, with more press conferences, discussions and extended walks through Dayton’s department store. Upon returning to Germany, the hundreds of photographs and many hours of videotape were assembled, and yet Beuys, ever engaged in new projects, somehow never found time to edit them. It was only in October 1985, shortly before his death, that he had finalized the sequence for the book. Originally published in 1987, this new Steidl edition has been wholly re-conceived by Klaus Staeck and Gerhard Steidl.

In America I discovered a lot of things which, in a way, lay hidden inside of me. Just so when you look into the ground, watch the formation of ice, feel certain natural powers and experience totally different tensions. – Joseph Beuys

Additional information

Weight 1306 g
Dimensions 21.8 x 30.6 cm
Publisher name Steidl
Publication date 23 November 2022
Number of pages 224
Format Hardback
Contributors Text by Douglas Davis, Edited by Gerhard Steidl
Dimensions 21.8 x 30.6 cm
Weight 1306 g


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Widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Joseph Beuys (1921-86) was a sculptor, draughtsman, action and installation artist, as well as a teacher, politician and activist. After serving as a soldier in World War II, experiences that would strongly shape his practice, he studied sculpture at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he was made professor in 1961. From the early 1960s Beuys dissolved the difference between his biography and art, and increasingly employed his persona and charisma in what he deemed art's ultimate purpose: to radically democratize society. He called for the adoption of his universalist conception of art as a creative, transformative force within politics, science, philosophy and economics. Now as then, Beuys exerts a palpable influence upon artistic and political discourse.