Two boxes by Joseph Beuys

Posted on Wed, 12/18/2019 - 11:20

This article is in German and was published in the magazine of the VDR – Die Vergänglichkeit des Materials – Fachtagung, Köln 2011

Abstract in English

Two „boxes“ by Joseph Beuys – Components of the Block Beuys in the Hessisches Landemuseum Darmstadt. The Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt holds a large collection of major works by Joseph Beuys. The so-called Block Beuys comprises more than 290 art objects created between 1949 and 1972. Beuys’s concept of sculpture as a dynamic process is exemplified by his penchant for unusual materials demonstrated in the two examples under discussion. In a zinc box titled mit Schwefel überzogene Zinkkiste (1969), he coated the box with sulfur paint. This yellow layer has detached from the metal surface over the years. The detached layer can only be consolidated partially in this specific case. Therefore, a partial and temporary solution has to be accepted. Regarding The 20th of July Fettkiste (1964), Beuys poured warm margarine into an old bread box during a Fluxus performance. The fat has been reacting with the metal for years now, releasing fatty acids, making the box leaky and virtually unsealable. The conservators in Darmstadt have constantly been confronted with the dilemma of how to preserve or at least maintain a work of art that was conceived of as a temporary „performance tool” and has been in a state of active chemical reaction ever since.