Skip to Content




Final Day - Thursday, February 22!


2:40   9:10


Charismatic and controversial German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) was a messianic figure, alternately considered a shaman, a radical political activist, and a breakthrough artistic genius. Filmmaker Andres Veiel mines a rich trove of never-before-seen archival footage, showing how Beuys’s teachings (at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf), installations (using felt and fat), ‘happenings’ (covering himself in honey and gold leaf in How to Explain Paintings to a Dead Hare or locking himself in a room with a coyote in I Like America and America Likes Me), and lectures (“money shouldn’t be a commodity”) argued for a more expansive view of the role of art in our lives. Always recognizable in his trademark fedora, Beuys was a visionary, who, thirty years after his death, continues to influence artists and confound and entertain the rest of us.                                                                

Presented with support from the Helen Frankenthaler Endowed Fund for Films on Art



“An exhilarating portrait of a unique truth-teller...the artist as a socially conscious provocateur. The highly praised 2017 film THE SQUARE contains a running gag about an artwork that’s nothing but piles of rocks… it’s clearly a poke at Beuys. His drawings...are harrowing, haunting.”
- Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

“Fascinating. A rangy, unconventional ride. A fine, thoughtful documentary. A pleasure to watch. Working engagingly with material culled from years of archival footage, it presents the work that was Joseph Beuys - as well as reminding us why this most political of contemporary artists is still relevant today, more than thirty years after his death.”
– Lee Marshall, Screen Daily

“The most extensive revisiting of Beuys’s art and life.”
– David D’Arcy, The Art Newspaper

“A new documentary about the legendary conceptual artist. Folks in the know hold Beuys in similar standing to Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. Not only offers a psychological portrait of the man, but chronicles the many ways he sought to reverse the effects of our repressive social systems - and how his breakthroughs continue to influence artists today.”
– Benjamin Sutton, Hyperallergic

“One of the most important figures in post-war German art, Joseph Beuys pushed the boundaries of sculpture to encapsulate every aspect of human existence. Veiel is most successful in capturing Beuys as the enfant terrible of the German art scene… The juxtaposition of art with wild animals both living and dead in these works (“How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare” and “I Like America and America Likes Me”) capture what made Beuys’s art so exciting and dangerous in his time.”
 Oleg Ivanov, Slant magazine

“Compelling. BEUYS effectively conveys Cold War–era German performance artist Joseph Beuys’s infectious presence and democratic ideals. Something of a choose-your-own-art-history-adventure. The artist’s mercurial personality informed his utopian ideals and controversial reputation. Veiel’s refreshingly open-ended approach invites you to find your own answers.”
 Simon Abrams, Village Voice 

“One of the most influential artists of the last century. Beuys reveled in mystification, and a satirical pre-Warhol narcissism as well. Early drawings display an obvious, deep and quite delicately beautiful talent complete odds with the in-your-face shenanigans which were to come.”
– David Noh, Film Journal International

Film Forum