Monday, 30 May 2011

Beuys and Finley and Honey and more

Karen Finley, A Different Kind of Intimacy

Joseph Beuys, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, 1965

Honey was first used by Beuys as a material in 1965 in his action How to Explain Paintings to a Dead Hare, in which he anointed his head with honey and gold. Honey not only has a connection with nourishment, but it also has a certain mystical quality. For example, according to Beuys, "in mythology, honey was regarded as a spiritual substance and bees were godly." He also viewed the organization of bees as very similar to the principles of socialism in that an end product is made through principles of cooperation and brotherhood.

Joseph Beuys, I Like America and America Likes Me, 1974

Beuys’s most famous Action took place in May 1974, when he spent three days in a room with a coyote. After flying into New York, he was swathed in felt and loaded into an ambulance, then driven to the gallery where the Action took place, without having once touched American soil. As Beuys later explained: ‘I wanted to isolate myself, insulate myself, see nothing of America other than the coyote.’ The title of the work is filled with irony. Beuys opposed American military actions in Vietnam, and his work as an artist was a challenge to the hegemony of American art.

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