Everyone will be art. You are art. Joseph Beuys and the impossibility of man not being art.
You are art. In any case, you can be if you take a statement made by Joseph Beuys seriously in a TV talk. On January 27th, 1983, Beuys answered in a live broadcast of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) in "Club 2" with the topic "Art or Fraud" after about 47 minutes to the question from the public over the phone as to when he would take off his hat, in these words: “I myself am the work of art at this moment. That means that it should come to the point that the human being himself becomes the work of art.” (Beuys, 1983, Min. 47:16)
- 1 Every human being is art!?
- 2 Situation & credibility
- 3 Role of the artist
- 4 Private sculpture, subject art & the human-in-itself
- 5 Man cannot not be art
- 6 The impossibility of man not being art
- 7 Apparition relics
- 8 Art analysis
- 9 Discursive art
- 10 Is Beuys' silence underestimated?
- 11 Restriction of the extended concept of art
- 12 Joblin Factory
- 13 DOCUMENTA 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 with Beuys
- 14 Consequential expansion of the concept of art
- 15 Art or work of art?
- 16 Revolution postponed indefinitely?
- 17 Literature / source directory
- 18 List of all artworks
- 19 Salmon Art / Lachskunst
- 20 Mirror Memento Multiple / Spiegel Multiples
- 21 Addbook Multiples / Bücher
- 22 Fleischkleider, T-Shirt, Accessoires / FleshArt
- 23 Kultur & Bildung / Culture & Education
- 24 Jesus
- 25 Beuys
- 26 Contact
Every human being is art!?
Apparently several people were upset that day. The art historian Fässler then finds it typical when, in an intellectual discourse, the audience primarily asks the superficial question as to why Beuys is so impolite and cannot observe etiquette in a seated discussion group. Years later, the then master student and Johannes Stüttgen, who was always present in the Beuys anniversary years, also brought the human being into play as a work of art: "As an artist, he (Beuys) is at the same time a part of the work of art" (Stüttgen in SWP, 2021). In a lecture that can be found on YouTube, he also becomes more specific: "So it doesn't apply: Every person is an artist. But now it says: Every human being is a work of art” (Stüttgen in Der extended concept of art, 2021, min. 1:20:10). What does this statement have to do with us today? So not only is every human being an artist, but can every human being also be a work of art? Can anyone be art, whether they are garbage collectors, nurses, doctors, engineers or farmers? (Der Spiegel, 1984) Can everyone now declare themselves and others to be art? That would be a sensation for the art world. It would be more than the participation in art that has been promised time and again since the 1960s – it would be a takeover of art by everyone. The Internet find in the ORF archive could be a stroke of luck for art theory or even trigger a revolution that Beuys always strived for, since the quote contains tremendous energy, but unfortunately has not yet been sufficiently discussed in the specialist literature. It's about the really big issues, like freedom, democracy, love and death. Or would it be more of a quote for the art world that should be quickly forgotten and the cloak of silence laid over it?
Situation & credibility
The quote seems credible and appropriate when one deals with the artist's work. “Anything can become art. Especially anything that stores energy. That is the art formula,” (Kufus / Veiel, 2017, Min. 7:53) claims Beuys. "In and of itself, the concept of art is so broad that every normal situation is art." (Kufus / Veiel, 2017, Min. 12:05) Beuys is also known for expressing himself with great precision and for choosing his words carefully . So at first glance it can be assumed that, according to Beuys, every human being has the potential to be a work of art. Each of us can be an artist. And our art is - according to this 80s quote - always right in front of our eyes. She lies, or rather walks, on the street. Every human being is a work of art. Every human being can be a work of art. When we want it and when we are able to perceive it, the world is full of art. For an art experience we don't necessarily need a visit to a museum, a look in the mirror or out of the window is enough. A walk or a trip to the city is like a cultural event, a visit to the Louvre. Some will perhaps pretend to visit a gallery and yet wander into an inn. If we could experience all human beings as works of art, our life would be richer. Let's try it: Every human being is a work of art. Let's go to people and try to recognize them as art. After some time of intensive contemplation, the subjunctive forces itself into the thought (for me): Every human being could be a work of art. The perception of man as art is not so simple. It takes place in an oscillating manner. Most people are “just” people to us. Sometimes it can be hard not to see people as just walking objects. Sometimes we manage to respect people as subjects. In rare moments we can experience them as art – i.e. no longer as a “work” – and we wish that these moments will not pass: “Stay a while. You are so beautiful.” we would like to say like Goethe's Faust. And questions arise: Is what we value as art a highly stylized facet of the subjective? Can every human being perceive human beings as art?
Role of the artist
If anyone can be art, what role does the artist play? Who is the Divino artista? In the eternal triumvirate of artists, art and viewers there are, in my opinion, three possibilities: A) The viewer is the artist, because in his eyes, or rather in his brain, man is created as art. His tools are no longer brush and paint, but his mind. The viewer would be a kind of conceptual artist, since their idea of art does not require any additional visual implementation. B) Man as art is the "divine creator" because he causes people to perceive him as art. But are they only the people we consider a kind of "total work of art" anyway, such as Da Vinci, Goethe, Dylan, Brecht or Beuys? Do these people have to achieve a creative lifetime achievement in order to be recognized as art? Or: C) The artist is not there, since the judgment about a human being as art is true for the viewer, but the understanding about it that could explain why the human being is art is missing. The viewer then remains just the viewer. He lacks creativity. Man as art remains art. This person is not a creative artist either. Is the artist God, the viewer's psyche, his parents or a mystical destiny? Does one have to search for understanding or creation until the artist is found? Can we live with the missing artist? Does it then mean: no one is an artist? For the uncertain state until understanding is reached, the artist is missing. This one may never show up. This is more of an opportunity than a loss, as open discourse is always a movement that can provoke a development of the spirit. Generating an understanding or a consensus does not have to be the task of art.
Private sculpture, subject art & the human-in-itself
Private sculpture is always social sculpture: For Beuys, thoughts, words and works were social sculpture if they shaped the world. In this way, every human being could become an artist on a formed world. In this sense, plastic or sculpture was not an object on which you can put a hat, for example. The idea of man as art creates a private sculpture by shaping personal thoughts. And: A formed mind cannot not form society. Although the basic interest in viewing the human being as art is not intended to improve the world, the effects of a mind shaped by thoughts in this regard on society are understandable. You have no hypocritical interest. Thoughts can be free, even selfish. The idea of man as art can be regarded as a treasure from which one can enrich oneself without causing poverty elsewhere. The decision to perceive people as art cannot remain private, as it changes the attitude towards all people. In every human being there is the potential to be art - regardless of origin, religious affiliation, gender, etc. The freedom to make decisions and the diverse, personal experience of the human being as art is also essential for this. This attitude towards people can have positive effects on the development of society. The internalization of human beings as art could bring about real change in society if a righteous feeling of human beings as art could be established. If people are seen as art, these people as art can only be treated with the utmost respect. This basic attitude applied to all people in the world would certainly solve many problems in the world. It is also the most conclusive attitude when one thinks of the idea of the extended concept of art. Man as art would be a perpetuum mobile of respect for man. The private sculpture of formed thoughts would always be a social sculpture of the formed world.
Man cannot not be art
Man can refuse to be art or ignore the questioning of it. He can feel, think, do whatever he wants, the human being remains art. Thoughts and non-thoughts, ideas and non-ideas are personal plastic and thus always social plastic. [Most of the time, the ideas you don't have are more effective than the ideas you have.] As a constantly changing subject or as a self-responsible object, man remains art. The human being as art is never just an object. It is never just a work. Nor is he just a subject. Nor is it the sum of its contemplation as an object and/or as a subject. It is "more" than a human being if it is possible to recognize it as art. The possibility of every human being to recognize other human beings both as an objective work of art and as subjective art suggests that an axiom (according to Watzlawick) could arise here: Man cannot not be art. That would be a revolutionary innovation to the more common knowledge: Man cannot not decide what art is. And: Man cannot not create art.
The impossibility of man not being art
If every human being is art, then it is easy to be an artist. It is enough to reflect. Anywhere. Anytime. We don't need a museum, a gallery or the internet. Even if Beuys said: "The mistake already begins when someone is preparing to buy stretcher frames and canvas" (Asholt / Fähnders, 2000, p. 90). Anyone can still draw pictures. You can still create drawings, photos, prints, sculptures and post them on every imaginable network. One should or must still go to a demonstration every Friday and actively change the world through social sculpture. However, the fact is that we are already changing the world with a much more personal act: the mental effort to perceive someone as art. This attitude shapes our mind and turns it into plastic. This formed spirit or this personal sculpture always has an impact on society. Anything can be art. Anyone can be art. Even without an artist. But that doesn't mean that art is dead. That doesn't mean that art is in a crisis. As is so often the case, art is at a new beginning with many possibilities and prospects. Everyone has the freedom to decide for themselves whether the expansion "People as Art" can be an enrichment for them.
What does the realization mean in hindsight? In the view of man as art, the Mona Lisa is an appearance relic or an apparition relic. According to René Magritte, the sentence should be written under the painting: "That's not La Gioconda." Or "That's not a human being." The painting shows the human being (in this case the Mona Lisa) in its time as art. Perceived as art by the artist Leonardo da Vinci, seen and recorded as art for posterity with special technical and expressive means. In this interpretation, Mona's smile refers to the realization that Leonardo da Vinci perceived this woman as art. Perhaps the eyes of the Mona Lisa are now also asking: I am art, what are you? All art-historical depictions of people must be examined to see how far people are art. Particular attention should certainly be paid to the self-portrait.
Man as art is a mammoth task for art analysis. Since every human being is a much more complex art form than, for example, a two-dimensional painting or a video installation can represent, new ways of interpretation are required. In the iconographic analysis it becomes clear how far the analysis of a human being as art differs from a formal aesthetic work of art. A conventional approach does not do justice to the human being as a human being and as an art. Even the simplest biography is so impenetrable in its facets that a conclusive analysis on this point alone seems impossible. Nonetheless, a perpetually failing investigation is also an art analysis, scientifically evolving until that art form can be adequately described. It shows that human beings as art are capable of breaking the bounds of conventional observation. Art could hardly be more exciting.
Art could hardly be more democratic. people are everywhere. Some silently cry out: “I am art.” Since the changing view of what art is and can be is also changing many of the things that have been fixed for centuries, new definitions or reformulations are required in several branches of science, culture and education. One question would be: What should this art be called? Fleischkunst / Flesh Art in relation to human flesh or animal flesh and as an answer to the Eat or Meat Art? Subject art / Subeject Art to emphasize the character of the subject in contrast to object art and to set a counterpoint to Arno Holz' subject-eliminating formula "Art = Nature - X" with "Human = Art"? Or: discursive art to emphasize the democratic core of art, which deals with the decision about what and who is art? Confidence in each person's decision about what art is is reflected in the discourse about art. In my opinion, this variant in particular would have a lot to offer that is important for our society today. In human beings as art, a distinction must be made between inner discourse and public discourse. The constant question in both discussions is: why is this person art? Of course, when it comes to people as art, not everything that is made with thoughts, statements and exhibitions by people about it will be art. Art is certainly also often confused with friendship, love and drives. It is easy to imagine that we will be outraged at how the statement will be cannibalized and dismantled. But hasn't that always been the case in art? Art generates important discourses - especially for our everyday life. Discourse is the method of democracy. We will probably have to endure controversy if the feeling for art is to come back into society – and it has to. Not only because art is capital (cf. Beuys in Der Spiegel, 1984), but also because art is important for human development. In my opinion, a real expansion of the concept of art seems to be in demand, especially in education. Many people see art as something unrivaled in Maslow's pyramid at the top of self-actualization or even transcendence, accessible only to a few. Art is also(!) a basic need, like breathing, eating and sleeping. With everyday people as art, this (deficit) need for art can be satisfied in order to achieve a (growth) need for art without special means, such as wealth and security. This does not mean, however, that in the case of poverty, thoughts are not tied to existential needs. Poverty still remains a great enemy of culture.
Is Beuys' silence underestimated?
Why didn't Beuys publicly comment on these revolutionary ideas in his last years? Why didn't he develop this theory further? Is Beuys' silence underestimated? Perhaps the following quote from Beuys has something to do with the answer: “Most artists don't want to fight for a new understanding of art that deals with everyone's work and everyone's problems. There are no new theories among artists, in the art world itself. Not even among critics. Not to mention the galleries. They only take care of business” (Kufus / Veiel, 2017, min. 26:23). In fact, it is difficult to imagine how the art world should get involved in the "human being as art ziat". Are people now being exhibited in the museum? How is money made? Do the super rich now buy or borrow people as art? Who sets the price for man as art? Will there be agencies that take care of the "attitude" of the paa (people as art)?
Restriction of the extended concept of art
In the WERK the ideas freeze: Maybe Beuys didn't mean it that way!? There is a small snag in Beuys and Stüttgen's version. Is it correct to speak of the human being as a WORK OF ART or should it rather be “every human being is art”? More precisely one would have to ask: Can the “man-in-himself” be art? A) Misunderstandings: The term "work of art" in relation to humans can lead to misunderstandings, since in today's usage of the language a work is understood to mean something material, created or finished. B) Artists only: The term “work” restricts the expanded concept of art if it only wants to accept artists as art who consciously create works or carry out an artistic act. Can a person only be "art" with a "work"? Does the formula here mean: "Human + work = art"? Wouldn't this restriction curtail the expansion of the concept of art? That would not be a revolutionary thought. The concentration of artist and art often takes place, for example, in Dadaism, happenings, Fluxus, body art, action art, performance or conceptual art. Just think of “The Artist Is Present” by Marina Abramovic. C) Moral guidelines: A narrowing of the expanded concept of art also takes place for us today when arguments are made based on the proximity to anthroposophy and, in some cases, a moral code is also given. In order to accept ideas and thoughts as art, we do not need to use any religious doctrine as a justification, we also find this in communication science. A human being as art does not have to want to improve a world. D) Objectifications: A further narrowing of the concept of art would be if subjects had to be objectified in order to be art. The character of a work is that of an object, an object that emerges in the eye of the beholder or is created by humans as art themselves, as is the case with Beuys with the superficial figureheads (hat, fishing vest, etc.). In the case of people-in-themselves as art, however, subjects are also (or primarily) regarded as art. The moment as an object can be desired in humans as a work of art, so that it is easier for the viewer to better understand individual elements of the art. So when Beuys superficially brings his hat “into play” as part of the work of art, he puts it in an understandable way. The hat is an object. His vest is an object. "The theater with the hat" (as he calls it himself) is an objectification of his person as a work of art. However, it is certainly also clear to Beuys at this moment that he exists as a subject. However, he does not say that this subject also exists as art (without a work). However, narrowing down the expanded concept of art to people as objects does not seem to make sense. For this reason, in my opinion, the open term "art" should be used for "man as art". This does more justice to the human being itself.
The Joblin Factory has been dealing theoretically with the way people are viewed as art in publications and artistic works for years. With the exhibition "Every human being is art. Meat is art." The artists' collective, above all with "Memento Multiples", artistically implements this theme so that the Beuys idea is continued and artistically realized for the first time. The human being itself has never been art for the professional world. By recognizing a person as art, our mind forms into private sculpture. This is what Joblin Factory wants to achieve through your mirror multiples, flesh works and your publications. The presence of the dead flesh makes the presence of the living flesh conscious. With the publication "Every human being is art. Meat is art." the Joblin Factory presents an exhibition catalog for galleries. Gallerists can combine works from categories into a classic exhibition or into a multiple shop.
At the upcoming DOCUMENTA, the artist community will draw attention to the topic with free multiples for DOCUMENTA visitors and collect DONATIONS for a guerrilla vernissage.
DOCUMENTA 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 with Beuys
The Beuys year came to an unspectacular end. Direct democracy was removed from party programs in Germany. There will be no Beuys anniversary in the next few years. And yet Beuys will appear at Documenta 15 in 2022. He is represented by the Joblin Factory with a guerrilla vernissage. In line with the participation theme, Beuys will be taking part with the theme “Every human being is art”. The idea is that the visitors to the Documenta are the art themselves and experience themselves as such (without having to be active in the sense of a social sculpture or becoming part of an "external" work of art). Several Joblin Factory employees are raising awareness of the issue with multiples, t-shirt sales, pocket mirror donations, mirrors and meat. The Joblin Factory was not officially invited. However, Documenta visitors can encounter the Joblin artists throughout Kassel on the streets and in the closed exhibition rooms. You too can exhibit your art at DOCUMENTA.
Consequential expansion of the concept of art
Looking at the history of art, a further development to every subjective human (-in-itself) as art would only be logical. In 1913 Marcel Duchamp declared objects to be art with his Readymades. For Ben Vautier everything that could be signed was art. He also signed himself in the 1960s. The self-proclaimed “total artist” Timm Ulrichs declared himself the “first living work of art” in 1961 (ZKM, 2021). His tattoos also suggest the artist's view of art. In 1971 "The Singing Sculpture" (Ratcliff, 1993, p. 56) is the prelude to "Living Sculpture", a self-proclaimed art by Gilbert & George. Wolf Vostell, for whom processes were also art, coined the term “art is life, life is art.” (Vostell, 2012) With this he seems to be the first, alongside Beuys, who not only treated people as artists or out of their own interest as can look at art.
Art or work of art?
However, since Beuys, Vostell and Stüttgen use the term work and do not specify their ideas in more detail, it can be assumed that they never meant the idea of a human being as art. They probably did not and do not have the human being in mind, but rather their actions (as artists) or attitudes in connection with works of art. In the same 80s ORF talk (mentioned above), Beuys substantiates his statement and thus puts the possible interpretation of a human being as art into perspective: “I only indicate one direction of development, that the work of art can be realized by the human being himself – in our time. And that everyone can potentially participate in this realization of turning the world into a work of art.” (Beuys, 1983, min. 47:30) Participating as an artist in a world as a work of art sounds like “every person is an artist” and not after “Every human being is art”. Becoming an artist as a human being is like a holy grail. Being an artist can be thought of as wonderful. Remaining an artist awakens an energetic vanity in man. It is much more abstract and difficult to accept the idea that people are art itself. In addition, it is probably not possible for everyone to perceive people as art.
Revolution postponed indefinitely?
Will the revolution now be postponed indefinitely? Let's not fool ourselves, the Beuys quote is about four decades old. It is not an art criticism looking for ways to liberate art from the clutches of auction houses and galleries. No revolution was started. No institution, not Beuys and not even his colleagues or students wanted to stand for a new expansion of the concept of art through man as art. The thought is waiting to be spun further. It is to be hoped that the experts and perhaps also the museums and galleries of the world will see the opportunity in the idea of a human being as art and accept this challenge. It would be a logical progression from Marcel Duchamp's readymade via the social sculpture of the Beuys universe to a human being as art, artist and viewer. But this is probably just a hope. For the next Beuys anniversary, many galleries will certainly be stocked again and multiples will be sold to the upper middle class. Man has to emancipate himself from the art authorities, the art market, the institutions and limiting perspectives. This is not a new task for him. But in this case it is really about himself. This may not, on the surface, result in any visible change in society, but the individual spirit of people is able to free itself from the narrowed image of art and unleash a real expansion of the concept of art. Isn't that a revolution? Imagine if many people saw people as art. A molded mind is a personal plastic. And this plastic is art. You are art. So maybe tomorrow when you get up and go to the bathroom, you'll see someone else in your mirror. Try it. It can't do any harm. Maybe you also realize that this plastic can change the world.
Literature / source directory
- ASHOLT, W. & FÄHNDERS, W. (2000). Der Blick vom Wolkenkratzer: Avantgarde - Avantgardekritik - Avantgardeforschung (Avant-garde Critical Studies, Band 14). Editions Rodopi.
- BEUYS, J. (1983, 27. Januar). Kunst oder Schwindel? - Kunst oder Schwindel? vom 27.01.1983. ORF-TVthek. https://tvthek.orf.at/profile/Archiv/7648449/Kunst-oder-Schwindel/14092017/Kunst-oder-Schwindel/14916294, Zitat Joseph Beuys
- DER SPIEGEL. (1984, Juni 3). Die Mysterien finden im Hauptbahnhof statt: Joseph Beuys im Interview. DER SPIEGEL, Hamburg, Germany. https://www.spiegel.de/kultur/die-mysterien-finden-im-hauptbahnhof-statt-a-7e610ad1-0002-0001-0000-000013508033
- RATCLIFF, C. (1993). Gilbert and George: The Singing Sculpture. Distributed Art Pub Inc.
- KUFUS, T. (Produzent), VEIEL A. (Regisseur). (2017). Beuys [Filmbiographie]. Deutschland. Berliner zero one film GmbH in Kooperation mit Terz Filmproduktion, SWR, ARTE und WDR.
- STÜTTGEN, J. (2019, 10. Januar). Der erweiterte Kunstbegriff von Josef Beuys (Johannes Stüttgen). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8qiiFVdJZI
- STÜTTGEN, J. (2021, 11. Mai). Südwest Presse (SWP). 100 Jahre Joseph Beuys: Werke, Zitate, Todesursache: Das war Jahrhundertkünstler Beuys. swp.de. https://www.swp.de/panorama/joseph-beuys-beus-werke-zitate-todesursache-filz-fett-hase-kojote-frau-kinder-jeder-mensch-ist-ein-kuenstler-56787436.html
- ZKM (2021). Timm Ulrichs | Timm Ulrichs, erstes lebendes Kunstwerk | 1961. (2021). ZKM. https://zkm.de/de/werk/timm-ulrichs-erstes-lebendes-kunstwerk
- VOSTELL, W. (2012). Ausstellung: Wolf Vostell zum 80. Jeder Mensch ist ein Kunstwerk. Mannheim.de. https://www.mannheim.de/de/presse/ausstellung-wolf-vostell-zum-80-jeder-mensch-ist-ein-kunstwerk
List of all artworks
Salmon Art / Lachskunst
- Salom Structure ▫️ Lachsstruktur
- Flesh-Phone ▫️ Fleisch-O-Phone
- Last Supper ▫️ Das letzte Abendmahl
- Ring ▫️ Ring
- Manufacturing ▫️ Herstellung
- Golf Fish ▫️ Golf Fisch
- Cross ▫️ Kreuz
- Cross Over ▫️ Kreuzende
- Tongue ▫️ Zunge
- Knife ▫️ Messer
- Nude from the Back ▫️ Nackt von Hinten
- Bulimia ▫️ Bulimie
- Salmon Landscape ▫️ Lachs Landschaft
- Ecce Homo ▫️ Ecce Homo
- Black Collage ▫️ Schwarze Collage
- Surgery ▫️ Chirurgie
- Leg ▫️ Schenkel
- Slot + Fresh + Packed ▫️ Schlitz + Frisch + Verpackt
- Flesh Box ▫️ Fleisch-Kiste
- Dancer ▫️ Tänzerin
- Self-Portrait ▫️ Selbstbildnis
- Dorian Series ▫️ Dorian Serie
Mirror Memento Multiple / Spiegel Multiples
Addbook Multiples / Bücher
Fleischkleider, T-Shirt, Accessoires / FleshArt
Kultur & Bildung / Culture & Education
Dr. Udo Glanz