Joseph Beuys

7000 Oak Trees, 1982

One of the perhaps most outstanding pioneering works in the context of environmentalism and ecology is the work »7000 Eichen«, a planting action started at documenta VII. »7000 Eichen –Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung« is a work of landscape art for whose realization Joseph Beuys relied on the commit-ment and cooperation of the popu-lation of Kassel. At various sites in the city, he combined an oak and a basalt stele. These contrastive natural materials, in their paired »planting«, were to visualize the contested field between growth and petrifaction. Beuys saw in organic growth a metaphor for the – in his view – necessary processes of change and healing in a society that is becoming increasingly estranged from its natural environment. By extending his notion of art to »social sculpture«, Beuys formulated a utopian outline of a civilization of an »ecological gesamtkunstwerk«.

Joseph Beuys (*1921 Krefeld – †1986 Düsseldorf, Germany)

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