These vitrines typify the unique way Beuys formed ensembles of his work for individual collectors. They include a diverse array of sculptures made between 1948 and 1982 involving found objects, felt or fat, and other organic materials. Their formal associations stem from the rhythm of echoing shapes, colors, or configurations. Many of these items are relics from the public performances, or “actions,” that were a central part of Beuys’s practice.
The original owner of the vitrines worked closely in concert with Beuys both in building his collection over the course of twenty years and finalizing its presentation in these glass cases in 1982. Beuys designed each vitrine to evoke the thick, heavy body and long spindly legs of a stag, an animal that, along with the hare, he often employed as an alter-ego. Here the vitrines are installed in slightly irregular fashion, an implicit reference to their potential for animation.
Gallery label from Focus: Joseph Beuys, 2008.