Beuys’s Bees

3 April – 11 September 2022

Bees, honey, and wax, as well as women involved with bees and their products, are the subject of many works of art by Joseph Beuys. Museum Schloss Moyland is home to a large collection of such works, some of which are rarely shown. In many cases, these drawings and watercolours bear titles such as Bienenkönigin, Aus dem Leben der Bienen or Honigsammlerin.

In his own ‘world of animals’, Beuys invested bees with a variety of meanings: He saw them as creators who produce wax (crystalline honeycomb form) and honey (amorphous form) through heat. These materials play an important role in Beuys’s theory of sculpture. He regarded the communal cooperation within the bee colony, which is based on the division of labour, as exemplary for both the individual and society (Social Sculpture). For him, bees and their products – honey and wax – stand for warmth and transformation, as well as sculptural, social, and healing processes. Beuys found important inspiration for the theme of bees, which had been occupying him since the late 1940s, in the writings of Rudolf Steiner, Maurice Maeterlinck, and Karl von Frisch.

The exhibition comprises the museum’s entire collection on the theme of ‘bees’, as well as numerous previously unpublished photos by Ute Klophaus of the Honigpumpe am Arbeitsplatz and its installation at documenta 6 (1977).

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue booklet with illustrations of all the works on display (in German).

On the occasion of the exhibition, new residents will move into the park: During the course of the exhibition, the beekeeper and swarm catcher Marco Janßen from Bedburg-Hau will set up beehives. This builds a conceptual bridge to the highly topical subject of honeybees and their importance for humans and nature.