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German History in Documents and Images
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Joseph Beuys with Wolfgang Wiens and Claus Peymann (May 1, 1969)
Joseph Beuys was a sculptor, performance artist, printmaker, and art teacher who first achieved fame in the 1960s for works that were shockingly innovative (or for some, just plain shocking). Generally speaking, Beuys was interested in exploring the relationship between creative acts and all aspects of life; it was his firm belief that everyone possessed genuine creative potential – a position that was not without larger political implications. His performance piece Titus Andronicus/Iphigenie premiered in May 1969 at “Experimenta 2,” which was organized by the German Academy of the Performing Arts in Frankfurt am Main. The photograph below, which was taken on May 1, 1969 during a rehearsal break, shows Beuys and his two collaborators, Wolfgang Wiens and Claus Peymann (from left to right). As part of the piece, Beuys appeared on stage in a long fur coat, which he quickly shed to reveal the outfit he is wearing here. He shared the stage with a (real) white horse, who ate hay throughout the performance. (Beuys's work in all media made almost constant reference to animals.) For his part, Beuys paced back and forth on the stage, approached and retreated from a standing microphone, fed sugar cubes to the horse, and made a variety of physical gestures and gesticulations. All the while, Wiens and Peymann recited text montages from Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus and Goethe's Iphigenie over a loudspeaker. Photo by Abisag Tüllmann.