Art Belongs to the People! is the second in the Ashmolean
s series of exhibitions of post-war and contemporary art presented in collaboration with the Hall Art Foundation (USA). Curated by Sir Norman Rosenthal, the exhibition shows a selection of important works by two outstanding German artists, Joseph Beuys (19211986) and Jörg Immendorff (19452007).
The exhibition focuses on the artists output from 1968 onwards, evoking the world of the student protests which were taking place across Europe and in the United States. In 1968, Beuys was a teacher and Immendorff his student at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art. Beuys had already established himself as a leading figure of the post-war avant-garde and had been involved with the international Fluxus movement since the early 1960s. His provocative statements and work in new and challenging media performance pieces, sculpture in felt and animal fat gave expression to his radical conception of art that won him both a devoted following and vehement opposition.
Jörg Immendorf joined the Düsseldorf Academy of Art in 1963 as a theatre design student before he changed course to study under Beuys. He was, throughout his career, involved in international protest movements, taking part in the anti-Vietnam war rallies, the Green movement, and, from the 1970s, engaged in the debate over the division of Germany.
Art Belongs to the People! shows approximately fifty works by the artists dating from 1968 up to paintings completed by Immendorff in 2005. The exhibition includes iconic pieces by each artist, amongst them Beuyss Sled (1969), and Felt Suit (1970); and two works from Immendorffs Café Deutschland series (1983).
Sir Norman Rosenthal, Curator of the exhibition, says: Joseph Beuys and Jörg Immendorff were artists who worked at the vanguard of the aesthetic battles which were being fought in Germany in the wake of the Second World War. From the moment they met until the end of both their lives, and in spite of employing different working methods, Beuys and Immendorff were closely engaged with each others work in what was effectively a permanent dialogue. Art Belongs to the People! demonstrates the involvement of both artists with contemporary politics and issues of universal human concern, and their belief in the role of art in changing how people think and how they live their lives.