Photo: Joseph Beuys, © Joseph Beuys Estate, courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac - London, Paris, Salzburg

Beuys, Joseph

Krefeld, Germany, 1921 | Düsseldorf, 1986

Joseph Beuys | Artistas | Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa



Born on May 12. 1940 Considers studying medicine after finishing high school, but joins the German armed forces instead.


Attends biology, botany, and geography classes at the Reichsuniversität in Posen (now part of Poland) in his free time. Begins to consider a career in art, inspired by sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck’s work.


Sent to the front.


The plane Beuys is traveling in is shot down over the Crimea in the Ukraine. Beuys will later recount that he was rescued by Tartar nomads who saved his life.


Attends the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studies under Joseph Enseling and Ewald Mataré. Graduates in 1951.


Has his first solo exhibition, at the home of brothers Franz Joseph and Hans van der Grinten, collectors of his work.


Exhibits at the Städtisches Museum Haus Koekkoek in Kleve, Germany. Appointed professor of monumental sculpture at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.


Becomes involved with the Fluxus movement after meeting artists Nam June Paik and George Maciunas, with whom he organizes the Festum Fluxorum Fluxus festival at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1963.


Exhibits at Galerie Alfred Schmela in Düsseldorf.


Founds the Deutsche Studentenpartei (German Students Party). The first retrospective of Beuys’s work is held at the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg in Mönchen- gladbach. Exhibits at the Kunstmuseum Basel.


The Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal, Germany, organize exhibitions of Beuys’s work.


Fired from the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf for allowing students turned down by the academy to attend his classes. Controversy over this subject will continue for six years.


Exhibits at the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg and takes part in a group exhibition in the parking lot of Villa Borghese in Rome.


With his friend Heinrich Böll, founds the Free International University. The show Joseph Beuys: The Secret Block for a Secret Person in Ireland is presented at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford.


Represents Germany at the XXXVII Biennale di Venezia. Receives the Lichtwark-Preis der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg.


The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin presents the exhibition Joseph Beuys: Richtkräfte. Takes part in Documenta 6 in Kassel, Germany.


Named a fellow of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. Receives the Thorn-Prikker Ehrenplakette der Stadt Krefeld.


The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York organizes a major retrospective of Beuys’s work. Takes part in the XV Bienal de São Paulo. Receives the Kaiserring prize from the city of Goslar, Germany.


Exhibits at the Kunstmuseum Bonn and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich. Named a fellow of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm. Represents Germany at the XXXIX Biennale di Venezia.


His series Das Kapital 1970-1977 is exhibited at the Hallen für Internationale neue Kunst in Zurich.


Participates in Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany. Begins a project to plant seven thousand trees; the project will be completed by his students and followers after his death.


Beuys: Ölfarben, 1949-1967 opens at the Kunsthalle Tübingen in Tübingen, Germany. Exhibits at the Seibu Museum of Art in Tokyo. The sculpture Olivestones is installed in the Castello di Rivoli in Turin.


The Fundación Caja de Pensiones in Madrid exhibits works on paper by Beuys.


Receives the Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Award from the city of Duisburg, Germany. Dies of a heart attack in his studio in Düsseldorf on January 23. A posthumous exhibition in homage to Beuys, Beuys zu Ehren, is presented at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich.