Joseph Beuys and Europe: Crossing Borders, Bridging Histories

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), 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)

For more information please contact Adam Townend, our Research Programme Assistant, or book a place online using the button below.

Venue details

Venue address

Leeds Art Gallery
The Headrow
West Yorkshire
United Kingdom
T: 0113 247 8256
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Opening times

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

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