Beuys | Chicago Reader

Beuys

Among the most prominent conceptual artists of the postwar era, Joseph Beuys nurtured a radical vision of democracy, believing that thought equaled sculpture and therefore any self-determined person could be an artist. For this 2017 documentary on the German provocateur (who died in 1986), director Andres Veiel takes an unconventional approach: 95 percent of the material is archival. With no narrator, no explanatory text, and only minimal background information from a few talking heads, the viewer is mostly left alone to interpret Beuys, as were audiences of his early performances. The most playful perhaps is I Like America and America Likes Me (1974), in which Beuys confined himself to a room with a nipping coyote and a copy of the Wall Street Journal (the coyote urinated on the paper). “Do you want to have a revolution without laughter?” Beuys once asked. ”I want to get my money’s worth out of this revolution!” In English and subtitled German.

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