Sculptor, painter, draughtsman, commercial artist, action artist, art theorist, politician, poet and college professor
Joseph Beuys was born in Krefeld in 1921. He left school without any qualifications and enlisted as a career soldier. From 1941 to 1945 he was deployed as a fighter pilot, and in 1944 was shot down over the Crimea. After the war Beuys studied painting and sculpture at Düsseldorf’s art academy. He also studied art history treatises and scientific writings, including those of Rudolf Steiner. Out of these he developed his theory of “social sculpture” and an expanded concept of art that integrates art and life. He was appointed a professor at the academy in 1961, and after his dismissal in 1968 founded the “Freie internationale Hochschule für Kreativität und interdisziplinäre Forschung e. V.”: the “Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Study”. In addition, he became engaged politically, was a co-founder of the Greens, and in 1979 ran for a seat in the European Parliament. Beuys participated in the documenta exhibitions from 1964 on, and contributed to the Venice Biennale and the Zeitgeist Exhibition in Berlin. He died in 1986 in Düsseldorf.