Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Exhibitions

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Exhibitions

Article excerpt

Byline: HEPHZIBAH ANDERSON

Joseph Beuys: Actions, Vitrines, Environments Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 (020-7401 5000) Ends Mon 2 May

This is a powerful exhibition - classy, solid and extraordinarily resonant.

But, as I stood contemplating 'Show Your Wound' - a melancholic environment in which two mortuary dissection tables are paired with archaic agricultural implements - a woman flounced by, bound for the exit. 'You really need to know something about his life to get these,' she muttered. It's true that, for Joseph Beuys, life and ideas and art were all of a piece, but his works are elemental and their meaning easy to respond to. The first piece you'll see is 'Fonds VII/2', eight chunky piles of thick-cut felt, each topped with a gleaming copper plate.

Notions of insulation and conductivity suggest batteries or stacks of ideas waiting to be transmitted.

Elsewhere, his vitrines (cabinets filled with tangles of everyday objects) exude a fecund narrative potential, and in environments such as 'I Want To See My Mountains', the careful placement of heavy furniture, a lamp and a human bone transcends their inanimate status.

Collectively, these works challenge us to use our imagination and this is Beuys's lasting legacy.

Opening This Week

CARAVAGGIO: THE FINAL YEARS Caravaggio's shocking realism made him one of the most revolutionary artists of his age, and his paintings are no less arresting to the modern eye. His life was almost as dramatic as the mythic narratives they depicted and his early death lent his legacy a potent urgency, establishing him as an icon of tortured genius. In 1606, at the height of his fame, he killed a man in a duel and fled Rome to escape hanging. Four years later and not yet 40, Caravaggio was dead. These paintings were all created on the run, as he flitted between Naples, Malta and Sicily. …

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