Mönchengladbach Museum Catalogue

[Katalog Museum Mönchengladbach]

  • 1967
  • Catalogue-box, 20 x 16 x 3 cm; felt piece, 19.5 x 15.5 x 1 cm, stamped with oil paint (Browncross)
  • Edition: 330, numbered, unsigned
  • Publisher: Städtisches Museum Mönchengladbach
  • Catalogue Raisonné No.: 5

In 1967, the Museum Mönchengladbach staged the first public survey of Beuys’s art. With no funds available to publish a traditional, bound catalogue, Beuys instead produced an inexpensive box in which a range of materials could be placed. Inside this box-cum-catalogue, he laid an exhibition checklist, two folded strips of card and a small sheet of felt that was stamped with his name and a red cross. On one side of each strip of card, he printed photographs of his past work. The reverse side featured texts by Johannes Cladders and Hans Strelow describing his art. The felt sheet, meanwhile, was itself a small work of art.

While most readily perceived as a rectangle from which one corner has been clipped, the unusual shape of the sheet can also be seen as a conjunction of two rectangles, one of which is larger than the other. Beuys utilised this figure often within his practice, and described it as an ‘evolutionary threshold’ [evolutionäre Schwelle].1 As a form that makes visible within its confines a transition from a smaller to a larger space, the evolutionary threshold can be understood to symbolise the passage from a limited, materialistic worldview to a more spiritual and expansive state of awareness, a dynamic that Beuys hoped to foster with his art. Consistent with this aim, he stamped each felt sheet for his catalogue with a design consisting of his last name and an equilateral cross beneath it. Since the cross can be read as both a sign of healing and a figure that brings balance to opposing forces, the stamp can be regarded as a statement of hope on Beuys’s part for a healthier, more balanced society. Produced in an edition of 330 copies, the Mönchengladbach catalogue was so well-received that the museum used the format for later exhibitions, producing 33 additional boxes with other artists in the decade that followed.

  1. On the ‘evolutionary threshold’ form in Beuys’s work, see Bernd Klüser, Joseph Beuys: Schwurhand (München: Pinakothek der Moderne, 2006), 25. 

    Foto 1, 2

    © H. Koyupinar, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

    Two Young Women with Shining Bread1966 Evervess II 1 1968