Joseph Beuys - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 17, 2024 | Phillips

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  • On 27th March 1969, Joseph Beuys and Henning Christiansen came together to perform a concert-style performance art piece titled …Or should we change it at the Städtisches Museum in Mönchengladbach, Germany. This performance, known in the context of Beuys’ practice as an aktionen or “action”, comprised of Beuys playing the piano following a score that had been marked out by sauerkraut draped on a music stand. Christiansen, a composer, accompanied him playing a green-painted violin, replicated in Zwei Fluxus-Objekte: Grüne Geige. Beuys' aktionen were heavily symbolic performance-based events that sought to stimulate social and political conversation. These aktionen developed as part of Beuys’s practice following his initial interest and involvement in Fluxus, an artistic movement with roots in experimental music.

    “My own instruments are all painted green, "Musik als Grün" (music as green), I have to do something in order to observe the matter with new eyes” 
    —Henning Christiansen

    Founded in 1960 by Lithuanian American artist George Maciunas, Fluxus was made up of internationally based composers and artists with a shared perspective – the aim to revolutionise the ways in which people thought about and created art. With Dada-esque approaches, the movement did not follow or advocate for a dictated style of art; rather, they saw rich creativity in the varied use of materials and randomly staged artistic performances. Additionally, collaborations between artists across varied media were encouraged, as was seen in Beuys’s partnership with Christiansen. The present lot visually encapsulates Beuys’s relationship to Fluxus: it acknowledges the link to experimental art, acts as a souvenir from his own musical performance piece, and holds similarities to the found objects of Dadaism. Displayed within a sheet iron case, Zwei Fluxus-Objekte: Grüne Geige presents an exciting example of the diversity of Joseph Beuys’s artistic output, challenging what constitutes art and visually capturing the musical elements of his practice.


    Joseph Beuys with Jörg Schellmann installing ‘Zeige Deine Wunde’ (Show Your Wound) at Lenbachhaus, Munich, 1980. Image: © Schellmann Art

    Beuys was the first artist that publisher Jörg Schellmann collaborated with on a major project. Beginning with Ja Ja Ja Ja Ja, Nee Nee Nee Nee Nee in 1969, a felt object containing a 32-minute tape recording, Beuys and Schellmann would go on to jointly produce twenty editioned artworks over the next two decades. Creating a diverse range of art objects, from cast beeswax to found musical objects, together Beuys and Schellman overcame perceived limitations and pushed the boundaries of contemporary edition-making.

    “In the late 1960’s, during Pop Art times, when the art world and I were fascinated by the new images coming from London and New York, there was a German artist both gallerists and collectors of acquired taste were talking about: a man who made sensitive drawings of deer and mountains and used basic materials like felt, fat and copper in his sculptures and objects. Just a complete contrast to the striking world of industrial signs and consumer products the Pop artists were celebrating.... This was the enthusiastic beginning of a long and seminal collaboration, which had a deep impact on both my further work as a publisher and on my personal life.”
    —Jörg Schellmann

    • Provenance

      Personal copy of the publisher and part of the Archive of Edition Schellmann since time of publication

    • Literature

      Jörg Schellmann 135
      Jörg Schellmann, ed., Forty Are Better Than One, Munich/New York, 2009, pp. 30-31
      ars publicata, Joseph Beuys – The Multiples, 135

Works from the Archive of Edition Schellmann to benefit the Ars Publicata Project


Zwei Fluxus-Objekte: Grüne Geige (Two Fluxus Objects: Green Violin) (S. 135)

Wooden violin painted in green, contained in the original glazed galvanized sheet iron case.
case 36.5 x 62.5 x 17.5 cm (14 3/8 x 24 5/8 x 6 7/8 in.)
Signed in pencil on the label affixed inside the violin, stamped 'Fluxus Zone West' on the body of the violin, one of only three or four signed examples from the unnumbered edition of 24, published by Edition Schellmann, Munich.

Full Cataloguing

£12,000 - 18,000 Ω♠

Sold for £15,240

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Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions

Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

Anne Schneider-Wilson
Senior International Specialist, Editions

Louisa Earl
Associate Specialist, Editions

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 17 - 18 January 2024