Thaddaeus Ropac Will Represent the Estate of Joseph Beuys, the Artist He Used to Intern For

An exhibition opening in London next week will reunite elements from Beuys’s landmark Berlin show in 1982.

Joseph Beuys, copyright the artist’s estate, courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Thaddaeus Ropac has come a long way since he was one of Joseph Beuys’s interns more than three decades ago. Today, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac announced that it will represent the estate of the influential German artist worldwide, days before it opens “Joseph Beuys: Utopia at The Stag Monuments,” in London.  

Ropac worked on Beuys’s 1982 exhibition in Berlin, “Zeitgeist,” which featured his iconic Stag Monuments. “I was schlepping beer” for Beuys, Ropac tells artnet News. “He was a larger-than life-figure and one of the most charismatic persons I have met,” the gallerist recalls. The artist gave Ropac a helping hand as a young gallerist starting out in Salzburg by offering him drawings to sell.

Joseph Beuys in the exhibition “Zietgeist,” Martin Gropius Bau, 1982. Photograph copyright Jochen Littkemann, courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Ropac says that he always had a signficant Beuys show in mind for the gallery’s new space in London’s Mayfair. For the exhibition, he has recruited Norman Rosenthal to revisit “Zeitgeist,” which the British curator co-organized in Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau back in the 80s. The show will reunite original elements of The Stag Monuments, as well as early works from his estate. In Berlin in 1982, Beuys constructed a mountain of clay surrounded by the contents from his Düsseldorf studio, including workbenches and tools. 

The artist’s widow, Eva Beuys, is due in London for the exhibition, which opens on April 17. Ropac says that the relationship between the gallery and the Beuys family has grown over the years,and it has borrowed works in the past, but now Ropac will now take on a much bigger role. “They have been careful: There is a good number of works [in the estate],” he says. He is guarded about plans, but says that there will be more exhibitions by guest curators. America is important not least because it “embraced Beuys,” Ropac says. And China is also on the horizon. Ropac was surprised to meet an unnamed collector in Shanghai who is a Beuys devotee and opened a private museum with a Beuys show. “It was incredible but he only had editions”

Less of a surprise to Ropac is the number of art students who are interested in Beuys’s work. The gallerist recalls that when he talked to students in Paris recently, he was struck by how many were interested in the German artist’s work and ideas. “Duchamp is number one, of course, but then it’s Beuys.”  


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