“Every Man is an Artist” – Talking About Artists’ Social Engagement

“Every Man is an Artist” - Talking About Artists’ Social Engagement

Chim↑Pom, Tsubasa Kato, Li Ran, Chang Li-Ren, River Lin, Su Misu, Yu Cheng-Ta
January 17 – March 28, 2020

Selected Works

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“Every Man is an Artist” is probably the most famous quote by the great German multi-disciplinary artist Joseph Beuys. In 1973, he explained his thinking behind his phrase: “Only art is capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile social system that continues to totter along the death line: to dismantle in order to build a social organism as a work of art. This most modern art discipline, ‘Social Sculpture’, will only reach fruition when every living person becomes a creator, a sculptor, or architect of the social organism.” (www.tate.org.uk)

Beuys’ extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy; it culminates in his “extended definition of art” and the idea of ‘Social Sculpture’, for which he claimed a creative, participatory role in shaping society and politics. His career was characterised by open public debates on a very wide range of subjects including political, environmental, social and long term cultural trends. 

Beuys was educated in Rindern, Germany, and served in the German air force throughout World War II. In 1943 his plane crashed in the frozen Crimea. Those who found him tried to restore his body heat by wrapping him in fat and an insulating layer of felt; these substances would later become recurring motifs in his sculptural works. Beuys’ increasing political commitment, the foundation of various associations and parties, resulted from his demand to allow more creativity in all areas of life and to actively contribute to the creation of the state as ‘Social Sculpture’. As such Beuys demonstrated how art might originate in personal experience yet also address universal artistic, political, and/or social ideas.

Each in their own way, the participating artists in this exhibition build on the concept of the Social Sculpture as established by Joseph Beuys. 

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