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"To be a teacher is my greatest work of art"
Deutsche Bank Luxembourg Presents Joseph Beuys and His Students


Following its premiere at the Kunstmuseum Ahlen, the exhibition "To be a teacher is my greatest work of art" is now on view at the Deutsche Bank Luxembourg. It features 150 works by Joseph Beuys and his most important students, including Anselm Kiefer, Imi Knoebel and Jörg Immendorff, from the Deutsche Bank Collection. Achim Drucks on the show.




He left his mark on an entire generation of artists. As a professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, Joseph Beuys taught more than 300 students from 1961 until his spectacular dismissal in 1972. Beuys viewed himself as a mentor who encouraged his students to take their own paths. The exhibition "To be a teacher is my greatest work of art" brings to life this important era of German art history. After being shown at Kunstmuseum Ahlen, the exhibition is now on view in the large main hall of Deutsche Bank Luxembourg. The curator of the exhibition, Friedhelm Hütte, the Global Head of Deutsche Bank Art, selected around 150 works on paper from the Deutsche Bank Collection for the show. He juxtaposed Beuys works with works by his most important students. Drawings, photographs and prints by Walter Dahn, Felix Droese, Jörg Immendorff, Anselm Kiefer, Imi Knoebel, Blinky Palermo and Katharina Sieverding display Beuys' artistic and personal influences as well as the reciprocal effects of the intensive dialog between the professor and his students. At the opening of the exhibition on April 23, 2009, an artists’ talk will take place in which Fernand Roda and Norbert Tadeusz will discuss their experiences with Joseph Beuys the artist and the teacher.

For many of his students, the person Beuys was much more important than his work. “We needed someone who was searching like we were. We were searching for extremes,” explained Imi Knoebel, to whom in May the Deutsche Guggenheim is devoting a two-part exhibition conceived by Deutsche Bank. Although Knoebel’s work, which was influenced by Russian Constructivism, was diametrically opposed to Beuys own work, Beuys accepted him into his class. Beuys was also skeptical about Immendorff’s Maoist-influenced pictorial world, yet he inspired him to have new perspectives. The realization “that painting has something processual” opened doors for Immendorf. His Biennale series (1976) breathed the spirit of the 1968 movement: He kept tabs on the events of a week as though recording them in a diary. Protest march on Thursday, poster action for the Biennale and a conspiratorial meeting on Frieday: agitprop in a wall newspaper style. At the exhibition, a film about Joseph Beuys and his students will be shown. Made in 1971, the film not only documents the activities in his class at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, but also enables the viewer to take a journey into a time of social upheaval influenced, among other things, by Beuys’ artistic and political “actions”.

"To be a teacher is my greatest work of art," Beuys explained in 1969 in an interview with the American art magazine Artforum. The charismatic professor had an immense impact on his students, but the latter were not epigones. Nevertheless, traces of Beuys’ works can repeatedely be discovered in his students’ work. , For example, like Beuys, Ulrich Meister and Felix Droese had a sensitivity for “poor” materials in the work and dealt early on with the topic of ecology. Anselm Kiefer’s investigation of cosmic mythology also clearly bears the mark of his teacher, while Katharina Sieverding picks up on Beuys’ criticism of a materialist concept of science in her series such as “Kontinentalkern” (Continental Core). For the photo artist Sieverding, Beuys empodied an ideal because “he was always there” for his students, “challenged them and expected achievement. You couldn’t experience a better example of a teacher.”

"To be a teacher is my greatest work of art"
Joseph Beuys and His Students.
Works from the Deutsche Bank Collection

Deutsche Bank Luxembourg
April 23 to July 12, 2009






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