Joseph Beuys

1921 (Krefeld, Germany) – 1986 (Düsseldorf)

The influential Beuys helped realign the parameters for art-making. He met Lorenz through working with the wildlife film-maker Sielmann in post-war years. Grass was a fellow-student, though their connection was tangential. Paik and Maciunas were met in the early 60’s, the start of his association with Fluxus. He made sound pieces with Paik, Moorman and Vostell, cooked at Spoerri’s restaurant, invited Morris and Rainer to perform, met Warhol in Naples, and greatly respected Cage. Richter ran into him as a student, Kiefer was among those he taught. Sacked from his teaching job, he founded a Free University with Böll.

Joseph Beuys knew…

Simone Weil

1909 (Paris) – 1943 (Ashford, England)

Alain taught her, and had a lasting influence on her thought, especially its political aspects. The mathematician André Weil was her brother — prodigies brought up in an eccentric family, they saw nothing odd in communicating sometimes in ancient Greek. Mechnikov was a family friend: his research into immunity was indirectly responsible for the family’s obsessive approach to hygiene. Beauvoir, fellow high-flying student, found her uncongenial (they barely spoke.) Bataille worked alongside her briefly; perceptive about her “blind passion for lucidity”, he also parodied her in fiction.