Joseph Beuys, Hirschdenkmäler


Installation, sculpture

Joseph Beuys, Hirschdenkmäler

Past: October 14 → November 24, 2012

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is especially pleased to present an extensive collection of works by Joseph Beuys. This selection, curated by Norman Rosenthal, centres around the exhibition’s eponymous installation: “Hirschdenkmäler”.

The sculptural setting of Hirschdenkmäler (The Stag Monuments), which covers the main space of the gallery, was created in 1982 at Norman Rosenthal’s invitation, curator of the Zeitgeist exhibition at Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin. Joseph Beuys suggested that he relocate the contents of his atelier into the centre of the building’s atrium. He dispersed an assemblage of objects in a dramatic way, gathered around an immense heap of clay, which he used to create the Urtiere from his own tools, in situ.

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac today presents, for the first time since its inception, an ensemble of original elements from the mythical exhibition. The pieces are represented within several major collections, in bronze (the Tate in London, the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the MMK Frankfurt). Hirschdenkmäler is an exemplary piece from Joseph Beuys’s artistic œuvre, for it covers a vast spectre of the artist’s obsessions, such as his fascination with primal and elemental forces including dirt, animals, excrement and death. The surrounding works on display are Ziege (Goat, a chariot with three wheels) and the Urtiere (an ensemble of primitive animals equivalent to lemmings, which are known for moving in groups, sometimes blindly, towards death). The Urtiere pivot around a wooden structure that embodies the stag (Hirsch), with the artist’s mother’s ironing board resting upon four massive wooden blocks. The ensemble is dominated by a figure upon a tripod, Boothia Felix, a sculpture made of dirt, roots and metal, adorned with a compass. The sculpture symbolises man: the spectator of this ballet that is as natural as it is mystical.

Employed in a recurrent fashion, the materials—including felt, earth, grease and honey—constitute a truly personal loan from Joseph Beuys, both physically and conceptually. Physically, his work goes beyond the confrontation between man and material, inscribed within an endangered environment and sometimes meditating on an ecological nature. Conceptually, Beuys’s œuvre always summons the transcendental dimension of the relationship between life and death, the very raison d’être of man and the position that the artist holds in society as an éclaireur.

Norman Rosenthal has selected a series of works displayed over three floors of the Marais gallery. This exhibition in particular explores the symbolic facets of certain materials such as they are employed in Aus dem Maschinenraum, Anhänger; made from grease and felt, elements that make up the foundation of the artist’s personal mythology. In this respect, Difesa della Natura, on the upper floor, develops another major moment of the exhibition because it evokes the fundamentally political and pedagogical qualities of the artist’s approach. These works illustrate, with the same force as Hirschdenkmäler, the narrative power of Joseph Beuys’s art. A considerable selection of sculpture and drawings complete this new and transversal reading.

A catalogue, featuring an essay by Norman Rosenthal will be published in honour of this exhibition.

Concurrently, a second exhibition will be dedicated to Joseph Beuys’s performance-based œuvre in the new gallery space in Pantin. The multimedia space will showcase Iphigenia. This emblematic performance in Frankfurt in 1969, built on the myth of the Greek heroine as interpreted by Goethe.

Matthieu Lelièvre
  • Opening Sunday, October 14, 2012 6 PM → 8 PM
03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

7, rue Debelleyme

75003 Paris

T. 01 42 72 99 00 — F. 01 42 72 61 66

Filles du Calvaire

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 7 PM

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Venue schedule

The artist

  • Joseph Beuys