SPA Week 7 Joseph Beuys


Untitled (Sun State) is one of Beuys’s blackboard drawings, which were created during his lectures at
educational institutions and museums. This drawing evolved during his participation in the public dialogue, “Art into Society, Society into Art” at The Art Institute of Chicago in 1974. Here Beuys demonstrates, with a thin looping line and verbal descriptions, the connections among myth, alchemy, astrology, anthropology, and the social and political sciences. The result is a work described by the artist as a kind of astrological chart embodying his ideas of the ideal state, in which democratic principles inform cultural life (freedom), law (equality), and economics (fraternity). It is a constellation delineating a structure for a harmonious social body, or, alternatively, a social sculpture—an evolutionary process whose goal is to “sculpt new models for the entirety of life.”- excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999

For this week’s assignment Please read U-topos: Beuys’s Social Sculpture as a Real-Utopia and Its Relation to Social Practice Today by Wolfgang Zumdick. Click

After you read the PDF please watch Joseph Beuys – Public Dialogue videos (links below).

Public Dialogue (Excerpt 1)

Public Dialogue (Excerpt 2. Part 1/2)

Joseph Beuys – Public Dialogue (Excerpt 2. Part 2/2)

Joseph Beuys – Public Dialogue (Excerpt 3. Part 1/2)

Joseph Beuys – Public Dialogue (Excerpt 4)



This week’s reading and content was a bit heady and full of various philosophies and “isms”. These ideologies all deal with the mental or consciousness of humans. Beuys followed this train of thought by focusing on the evolution of mankind through the development of a new art. He was not concerned with the physical world other than as a starting point for this evolution. This is shown in his blackboard drawing by the rock to the plant to the animal to the man. It continues with the introduction of myth, then religion, then rational thought. In the excerpt 4 video, this idea is challenged by a female audience member. Her argument is based on the fact that humanity is physical and physical needs and relationships must be met in addition to the conscious needs in order to attain the next level of society and enlightenment. It seems like Beuys’ response to this is missing something in translation he is attempting to say that is included in part, but we are looking beyond that, beyond the physical.

Focusing beyond the physical is very much an ideal of the anthroposophical movement Beuys followed which was developed by Rudolf Steiner. The main concept of this movement is that there is an intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, and it is accessible to humans through inner development. (

In a way I believe that the expanded understanding of art is taking shape today, especially in placemaking and social art. The socially based interactive temporary works that would never have a place in a traditional museum are a well accepted form of social art.

“The real capital of human societies consists in the creativity of their members and the capitol they contribute and produce together as social organisms.” – If that does not echo what social place making/keeping/ etc is about I don’t know what is.

This is the piece I made inspired by the Sun City Blackboard piece. This actually has given me the idea for more works similar with each layer being different influencing events in my life. This image however utilized different aspects of my current life. The different things that require my attention. Home, higher education, work at the art center, my photography studio, etc. All of the text was hand written. Each layer was drawn by hand with varying weights of permanent marker. Each page scanned into photoshop and adjusted for size, inversion, tilt, etc.

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