Press Release
Joseph Beuys: "Doppelaggregat and Bergkönig, Two Major Sculptures in Bronze and Works on Paper"
19 May 1999
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19 May through 9 July 1999

Michael Werner Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of two major sculptures and works on paper by the pre-eminent German artist, Joseph Beuys (b.1921 - d.1986).

This exhibition will feature two important sculptures in bronze, “Doppelaggregat” 1958-1969 and “Bergkönig” 1958-1961. Major bronzes from this period are rarely seen, and these two are supreme examples of Beuys’s sculptural work. Both were conceived in 1958, and their juxtaposition allows us to trace the change in Beuys’s aesthetic as it moved from figurative towards more abstract concerns.

“Bergkönig (Tunnel) 2 Planeten”, (Mountain King) contains two elements: a large mass reminiscent of earth or a mountain, and another suggesting a head or crown; which together imply the figure of a truncated king. Working with Beuys’s familiar themes of the spiritual and mythological, this sculpture suggests a decapitated sovereign and his kingdom. This most important work can be thought of as the culmination of the historical and figurative concerns that dominated Beuys’s earlier work.

Evolving from a design for an unrealized public fountain in Dortmund, “Doppelaggregat” (Double Aggregate) is the quintessential document of Beuys’s movement towards a more scientific basis for his work. This monumental sculpture might be read as a primitive “power station”, where heat and energy are generated by the movement of water through the sculpture’s eight turbine- like coils. These richly patinated beehive forms bring to mind Beuys’s interest in bees’ “social sculpture” and storage of energy in multiple cell structures. These paired forms could also be read as the plus and minus poles required to generate an electric current, and their similarity to water heading elements might also be noticed. This seminal sculpture summarizes the preoccupations that dominated the latter part of the artist’s life.

The accompanying group of drawings from 1949-1970 also traces the evolution of the artist’s practice. Key works document the transition from Beuys’s early interest in the figure and spirituality, towards a more abstract language of energy and form.

A full-color catalogue with a text by Mark Rosenthal will accompany the exhibition.

For further information, please contact the gallery.