The Science of Freedom

Joseph Beuys (1921-1985)-“sculptor, painter, draftsman, graphic designer, action artist, art theorist, politician, and poet”-decided to devote himself to art during World War II. Earlier, he thought he wanted to be a doctor, but just prior to enlisting he had spent a year as an acrobat in the circus so nothing was certain….
Beuys had been fascinated since childhood by the natural sciences, and thought that medicine would offer a way to integrate his interest in science with his urge to bring about healing. He would actually spend his life doing these very things, but art, not medicine, would be his vehicle.
In the 1970s Beuys created the Theory of Social Sculpture:
“My objects are to be seen as stimulants for the transformation of the idea of sculpture. . . or of art in general. They should provoke thoughts about what sculpture can be and how the concept of sculpting can be extended to the invisible materials used by everyone.
THINKING FORMS–how we mold our thoughts or
SPOKEN FORMS–how we shape our thoughts into words or
SOCIAL SCULPTURE–how we mold and shape the world in which we live:
That is why the nature of my sculpture is not fixed and finished, processes continue in most of them: chemical reactions, fermentations, color changes, decay, drying up. Everything is in a state of change.”

To Beuys, ‘Social Sculpture’ based upon interactive dialogue had the potential to be transformative and healing. In the action ‘ I Like America And America Likes Me’, Beuys shared living quarters with a live coyote for five days in the Rene Block Gallery in New York.
He often used animals to teach the lessons of social ecology -“the cultural characteristics and patterns of social organisation that have brought about the current ecological crisis” -and ecofeminism- how the domination of man over the natural world reproduces his domination in society, leading to mutually catastrophic destruction.

I Like America And America Likes Me, 1974


“To make people free is the aim of art, therefore art for me is the science of freedom.” Joseph Beuys

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