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Shin Gallery opens a solo show of the influential German artist Joseph Beuys
Installation view of Fat for Heat, Felt for Warmth at Shin Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY.- Shin Gallery is presenting a solo show of the influential German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986), Fat for Heat, Felt for Warmth. This exhibition featuring Beuys' major sculptures and drawings challenges the viewers to understand the depths of his thoughts beyond the palpable and tangible. This artist that created new paths and ideas during the late 20th century helps define the innovative beginnings of Shin Gallery’s new space at 68 Orchard Street.

Joseph Beuys began dedicating his life to art after surviving an airplane crash in Crimea (1943) during World War II. He believed that nomadic tribesmen wrapped his broken body in animal fat to regenerate heat and felt to insulate warmth—thus saving his life. This narrative turned out to be false, but Beuys believed that that powerful myth contained more truths than everyday reality. This became the inspiration for him to incorporate materials such as felt, lard, wood, and other items of nature into his artistic practice.

Central to his art making was the belief that everyone was capable of being an artist, a concept framed within the idea of gesamtkunstwerk that viewed life as a “social sculpture” that gave power to the people to mold as they contented. In his mission to transform society for the better, he sought to merge life and art through his performance art and sculptures that invited the viewer as potential artists.

Included in the exhibition, the sculpture Untitled (1973), constructed out of a wooden board and two earthen sculptures with straw and silver paint, clearly depict Beuys’ idea about transforming life itself into art—by combining the trite domestic item and turning it into a profound statement by placing it in an artistic context. The way that each of the elements are stacked and balanced, comments on the structure of society and perhaps even alludes to the fascism that he experienced.

Throughout the exhibition, Beuys plays with the idea of the political and spiritual—the necessity of their coexistence and how people’s obsession with competition disrupts this balance. By practicing and incorporating shamanism and psychoanalytical practices in his own life and art—particularly in his performances—he strived to educate and reconcile the public about the necessity of flexibility in constant rationalism. Although the artistic method of Joseph Beuys is mystical and abstract, the intention behind his artwork is crystal clear: to let the world know of the social function and the healing power of art.

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