Joseph Beuys and Europe: Crossing Borders, Bridging Histories

  • Leeds Art Gallery
  • Saturday, 20 January 2018
  • Conference in the Henry Moore Lecture Theatre, Leeds Art Gallery, 10:30am - 7pm

During the 1970s, a number of art critics identified Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) with a European culture rather than a specifically German one. For instance, according to Achille Bonito Oliva, in a book published in English, French, German, and Italian, Beuys was the embodiment of European art: “Joseph Beuys sets out, through art, spiritually to reconstitute man’s unity, to give him back energy and the urge to transform his dealings with the world, both political and cultural” (Europe/America: The Different Avant-Gardes, 1976).

Beuys’ pioneering involvement with the German Student Party (1967), the Organization for Direct Democracy Through Referendum (1971), the Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research (1974), and the German Green Party (1980), as well as his close working relationships with artists and cultural figures in various European countries, such as Denmark, Poland, Italy, Ireland and Scotland, all contributed to his reputation as a ‘good European’.

Equally, Richard Demarco, born in 1930 into a Scottish-Italian family in the west end of Edinburgh, shared with Beuys this desire to collaborate with European artists, a vision in part formed by his experiences of and involvement with the post-war Edinburgh International Festivals. He worked tirelessly with Beuys and other international figures especially through his foundation of the Richard Demarco Gallery (1966), and later he established the Demarco European Art Foundation (1992).

This workshop therefore sets out to re-examine Beuys’ European connections, and to ask in what respects he became engaged with the idea of Europe, particularly in his attraction to its peripheries and mythic histories rather than anything more politically mainstream.

Speakers include: Prof. Richard Demarco (Demarco European Art Foundation), Dr Tara Galliver (independent), Prof. Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes (University of Amsterdam), Dr Petra Richter (independent), Andrew Symons (Edinburgh College of Art), Dr Peter van der Meijden (University of Copenhagen) and Dr Victoria Walters (University of the West of England). Chaired by Dr Christian Weikop (Edinburgh College of Art).

Tickets: £10 / £5 concessions (including lunch and wine reception)



Morning Session

10:30amWelcome and introduction
Dr Jon Wood (Henry Moore Institute)
Dr Christian Weikop (Edinburgh College of Art)
 Always Already on the Way - Joseph Beuys and Eurasia
Dr Victoria Walters (University of the West of England)
 Beuys in the Rhineland: A Confluence of Creativity in the 1960s and 70s
Andrew Symonds (Edinburgh College of Art)
 Art into Society/Society into Art
Dr Tara Galliver (independent)

Afternoon Session

 States of Affairs: Beuys and Denmark
Dr Peter Van der Meijden (University of Copenhagen)
 Joseph Beuys: an Earthquake in the Heads of Mankind
Dr Petra Richter (independent)
 La rivoluzione siamo noi: Beuys’ Legacy in Current Artist-led University Projects
Prof Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes (University of Amsterdam)
4:30pmBeuys in the Celtic World
Prof Richard Demarco (Demarco European Art Foundation)
 Followed by wine reception and opportunity to view the exhibition

Venue details

Venue address

Leeds Art Gallery
The Headrow
West Yorkshire
United Kingdom
T: 0113 247 8256
Visit website

Opening times

Monday: Closed
Tuesday to Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 11am - 3pm

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