Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys


Capri Battery 1985

lemon, light bulb and plug socket

8 x 11cm

Joseph Beuys was born in Kleve, Germany, 1921 and died Düsseldorf in 1986. As an artist working in the philosophical traditions of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Rudolf Steiner, from the 1950s, Beuys pursued a wide range of creative activities, including drawing, sculpture, "objects", and installations. His world-view was based on the flux of various energies such as heat, and his work often employed raw and unstable materials. Within the rubric of "social sculpture" he engaged in activities that forwarded social transformation in economics and the environment. In Japan, he held large-scale solo exhibition at the Seibu Museum in 1984.

Considered to be one of his last great works before he died, Beuys created over 200 multiples of "Lemon Light/Capri Battery" in 1985. The yellow light bulb is plugged into a fresh lemon, from where it gets its energy, emitting a dim yellow glow. In this piece, Beuys is calling into question the ecological balance of civilization, the principle behind which is an ecologically sound energy source. Beuys completed the work on the island of Capri, hence the name, while he was recovering from an illness, and the light?s lemon yellow color reflects this jovial atmosphere and bright Mediterranean sun.

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