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Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys' multiples on show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

These works embodying the egalitarian nature of multiples have ironically been hidden from view until now

Artist-performer, Joseph Beuys, produced some 600 multiples (editioned objects and prints) as part of his utopian “Social sculpture” project. Beuys envisioned an artform created cooperatively across all disciplines, for which he often cited the bee-hive as an ideal working model. “Everyone is an artist” was one of his famous slogans and Beuys practised what he preached by sweeping up litter from the Karl Marx Platz in West Berlin and exhibiting the bags in a gallery in May 1972. Similarly, he collected groceries and other simple products manufactured in Eastern Europe as examples of the power of art to comment on Capitalism, calling these multiples “Economic value”. The link between the multiples and the dissemination of politics is particularly evident in their nature as infinitely-reproduceable objects, capable of reaching a wide audience, yet the works from this exhibition have ironically been hidden away in Alfred and Marie Greisinger’s private collection since their purchase in 1992. The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has organised and already exhibited these objects, and future venues will include Edinburgh and San José.M

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 100 February 2000