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Joseph Beuys

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Das Erdtelephon (The Earth Telepone), 1968-1971

About the Artwork

Erdtelephon exemplifies Joseph Beuys’s understanding of sculpture as active material and potential energy rather than as a static shape. For Beuys, this piece constituted a material statement on the nature of energy. It is a “social sculpture”—a concept of art as an interdisciplinary and participatory process. Earth and telephone are paired as visual manifestations of the transforming power of human communication. The artist believed that every individual possesses creative power and, as such, is responsible for helping to create a democratic, sustainable social order.

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