Joseph Beuys's contribution to Luna Luna was a handwritten statement that hung at the fair: “Money is not capital at all. However, ability is capital.” The statement reminds viewers that raw creativity is inherent in each and every one of us.
A text on capital and creativity
Drew two of his most iconic materials, fat and felt, from his experience of being rescued by Tartar nomads after crashing his German warplane in Crimea
He coined the idea of “social sculpture” to imagine a world in which everyone can be an artist and the art is the act of creativity itself
Beuys saw the artist as a healer who could remedy social harm
Trailblazing artist Joseph Beuys redefined what art could be in his work as an artist, teacher, political activist, environmentalist, and shaman. Beuys created drawings, installations, lectures, performances, political actions, sculptures, and writing, all in service of his utopian concept of “social sculpture,” an idea that promoted universal creativity for everyone. Beuys imagined a world in which everyone could be an artist and anything could be art. The art lay in the act of creativity—life as a social sculpture, here for all of us to shape. Via this vision, he aimed to generate transformative social change as he grappled with the pain of postwar Germany.
“Money is not capital at all.
However, ability is capital.”
Beuys’s career was shaped by a personal mythology of his own design. As he told it, his warplane crashed in Crimea while serving in the German air force. There, Tartar nomads covered his wounds in fat and wrapped him in felt. This experience announced two materials that would distinguish his sculpture—felt and fat—and established his interest in acts of shamanic healing to address personal and collective wounds. On his second visit to America in 1974, he recreated this act as a performance titled I Like America and America Likes Me. Two men collected him at the airport, swaddled him in felt, placed him on a stretcher, and transported him in an ambulance to René Block Gallery in Manhattan, where he lived with a coyote for eight hours on three consecutive days.
Beuys's contribution to Luna Luna was a handwritten statement that was hung at the fair: “Money is not capital at all. However, ability is capital,” emphasizing that value lies in creative output, which, if applied collectively, could achieve his vision of social sculpture.