Station: [8] Joseph Beuys

"Every human being is an artist." – "Art is in crisis. All areas are in crisis." – “Anyone unwilling to think will be thrown out."

The performance artist Joseph Beuys caused unease in the art world with his striking statements. People felt provoked, and his works were often met with incomprehension.

In Goslar, there were even protests when Joseph Beuys became the Kaiserring award winner in 1979. The idea that these three oak trees, planted in the sculpture garden by Beuys three years later, are supposed to be works of art – that was something else many people found hard to accept.

Yet as far as Beuys was concerned, his artistic work revolved around the individual human being. He believed in each person’s creative potential as a major political force. He wanted to influence politics and society with his art, and do so actively. It was something he passionately fought for.

For example in Kassel: at the Documenta Five exhibition, Joseph Beuys spent a hundred days discussing art, society and politics with visitors. At Documenta Seven, he unloaded 7,000 basalt stones outside the museum, triggering vocal protests from a lot of residents. For the price of 500 marks, anyone could buy a basalt stone and an oak seedling – and then plant the tree.

Joseph Beuys himself planted these three oak trees in 1982. The stubby basalt columns next to them are part of the artwork. As an active "Green" politically, Beuys was concerned about both ecological sustainability and the transformation of organic processes:

The tree represents life, change and the future. The stone serves as a reminder and a death guard. It’s immobile and represents things past. Beuys called his art project Stadtverwaldung 



Foto 1, 3: © Mönchehaus Museum Goslar

Foto 2:  Joseph Beuys pflanzt : Foto: © Dietmar Langner, Goslar