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Joseph Beuys

Broad Foundation acquires one of the largest groups of work by Beuys in the world

Some will go on show in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art expansion next year

The Broad Art Foundation has purchased a collection of 570 works by German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys, its most important acquisition to date.

The foundation, established in 1984, will lend up to 200 works including objects from the Beuys purchase for the inaugural exhibition of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) in late 2007. Los Angeles collector Eli Broad has funded BCAM, a $50m expansion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and is providing ongoing loans to the museum and an additional $10m for the purchase of contemporary art for its permanent collection.

The nearly complete set of Beuys “multiples” was acquired for an undisclosed price from Reinhard Schlegal, a Berlin-based collector, who amassed the pieces over 25 years. During his lifetime Beuys produced over 600 sets of multiples created from unusual materials such as felt, bottles and fish bones. The works are considered an essential part of Beuys’ oeuvre and, philosophically, represent his interest in spreading ideas to a wider public. Other major collections of Beuys multiples are at the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University in Cambridge, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Kunstmuseum in Bonn.

According to Broad Foundation director and chief curator Joanne Heyler, the acquisition brings the work of one of the most influential European post-war artists to the West Coast of the US where there have previously been few examples. “We think strategically about what is not available in Los Angeles or California and we are motivated to make major acquisitions when there is a gap to be filled. This purchase complements the strong German component in our collection, and allows us to see his influence on later generations of artists such as Kiefer, Baselitz and Gursky,” she says.

Other recent acquisitions by the foundation include a Damien Hirst installation, The Collector, which was shown at Tate Britain in 2004 as part of the exhibition “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, a painting by Leipzig-based artist Neo Rauch, and a major installation by Mike Kelley, Gym Interior, which was seen late last year at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. The foundation currently owns nearly 1,400 contemporary works and is particularly strong in work by artists such as Ruscha, Basquiat and Koons.