Joseph Beuys: Das Wirtschaftswertprinzip (2002)


This book is not yet published, but will be available from July 2022.

ISBN: 9783958299146 Category:

Joseph Beuys


A sumptuous room in the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent in 1980: on its wall hang Flemish Old Master paintings, gleaming in their gilt frames; yet in the middle of the room stand industrial metal shelves, sparsely stocked with packets of everyday perishable products, salt, flour, olives and peas… Each packet is signed by Joseph Beuys and labeled with “1 economic value.” This was Beuys’ compelling installation Wirtschaftswerte (Economic Values), a declaration that culture had once and for all been reduced to economic property. The products Beuys selected were notably from the German Democratic Republic, heightening the disparity between West and East (both in his native Germany, at the time still divided, and beyond) among others contrasts: capitalism and socialism, high and low culture, culture and consumerism, the mundane and the luxurious. Das Wirtschaftswertprinzip / The Principle of Economic Value documents in detail the original installation, which Beuys later recreated in different locations and expanded in a series of multiples. Originally published in 1990, the book has now been re-designed by Klaus Staeck and Gerhard Steidl on the occasion of the hundred anniversary of Beuys’ birth in 2021.

Our culture is not shaped by culture; our culture is completely shaped by economic values. – Joseph Beuys

Additional information

Weight 300 g
Dimensions 21 x 29.7 cm
Publisher name Steidl
Publication date 26 July 2022
Number of pages 192
Format Hardback
Contributors Text by Klaus Staeck, Bart De Baere, Jan Hoet, and Heiner Müller
Dimensions 21 x 29.7 cm
Weight 300 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.