Joseph Beuys comes from Friesland

It was Joseph Beuys who made us think of thinking as sculpture. He introduced ʻthe enlarged concept of artʼ to surpass the boundaries of modernism in art. He drew attention to the potential of human creativity with his slogan “Everybody an artist.” He simply said: “In a society in which everybody is an artist, life itself becomes art.” With his roaring laugh he added: “Modern Art is at its end, now art can star” and remarked: “I make art with my voice.”

The laugh of Beuys comes out of his Dutch genes. He told me: “The name Boie is a first name in Friesland. A son of Boie adds a ʻs and says: ‘I am Boieʼs’. In the 19th century when Friesland became poor one forefather of Joseph Beuys went from Friesland down to Groesbeek near Nijmegen. From there a train drove every hour to Kleve in Germany. One young ancestor found a girl in Germany.” That way Joseph Beuys became a German with a roaring Frisian  laugh.  When Beuys picked up the phone he said: “Boieʼs”. He never said Beuys the way we do. He wrote his name Beuijs with an ij to show his Dutch descent.

Beuys was a gifted speaker. His subjects were:  art, creativity, freedom, democracy, money, education, cooperation, concentration, transformation, spirit, intuïtion, inspiration and imagination. One thing he stated is: “I have nothing against the materialistic methodology of analytics, but I think we have to enlarge this thing, not to get caught in a very restricted one-sidedness in our way of looking toward life.”

His thinking was aimed at finding the proper connection between creativity and economics. “Our true capital is our creativity,” was his basic theory. Beuys:  “I would allow the artistic principle and the economic principle to completely flow over into each other, then the economic principle would become an artistic concept. Our basic production is then the quality of human thought and human consciousness. A permanent dialogue concerning all human problems would have to be initiated, a social dialogue. I call this the ʻSocial Sculptureʼ. That for me is the most important work of art.”
“Avoid the capitalist ideologies of profit, property and wages, that is the most important thing to create a world as an art work, as a living sculpture. Change your consciousness, your thinking, your concentration and your meditation, use not only rational thinking or dead thinking, but try to make your thought lively, as a living thought, so that the natural models appear, like the model for the future. Every human carries inside an organic model for the future. One shows that by making oneʼs thinking stronger, more concentrated and more lively and organic.”

In 1984 Joseph Beuys says in Japan: “Goethe, Novalis, Schelling, Fichte and Friedrich von Schiller were overruled by this materialistic understanding of the world. They were without doubt an early fruit that only in the next century, in the era of ecological need, will become important again for the people.”

That next century, the 21st century, has started and the words of Beuys are suddenly real important. Between 1968 and 1986, my years with Beuys, I kept collecting what he said.
During ʻ100DaysBeuysʼ I will share all words I have documented. Johannes Stüttgen, Elbrig de Groot, Antje von Graevenitz, Enno Schmidt, Anny de Decker, Ludo de Schutter, Jos Verhulst, Shelley Sacks and Babeth van Loo will come to ‘100DaysBeuys’ in Ferwert and tell us what they heard Beuys say.
Louwrien Wijers

Beuys meets Wijers Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, April 1980
Beuys and I make a promise for the future, Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, April 1980