Joseph Beuys. Democracy Is Merry (Demokratie ist lustig). 1973

Joseph Beuys Democracy Is Merry (Demokratie ist lustig) 1973

  • MoMA, Floor 4, 416 The David Geffen Galleries

Beuys’ tenure as a professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf was marked by great controversy. Already well–known internationally when he took his post in 1963, Beuys believed art to be a crucial catalyst for political activism, and he encouraged his students to participate in political activities with him. Beuys entered into a battle with the school over its policy of limited admission, which he felt was undemocratic, and he intentionally over–enrolled his classes in protest. Mounting complaints against his many artistic provocations from other members of the faculty eventually led to his dismissal, in 1972, when he was finally escorted out of the building after staging a sit-in with his students. Onto this screenprinted photograph of the event, Beuys inscribed in ink the phrase, “Demokratie ist lustig” (Democracy is merry), using the institutions suppression of political dissent as the subject matter of a new artwork.

Gallery label from 2013.
Screenprint with ink additions
composition: 29 1/2 x 45 1/16" (75 x 114.5 cm); sheet: 29 1/2 x 45 1/16" (75 x 114.5 cm)
Edition Staeck, Heidelberg, Germany
Gerhard Steidl, Göttingen, Germany
Walter Bareiss Fund
Object number
© 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
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