Richard Demarco and Joseph Beuys | A Unique Partnership

  • 29th July − 16th October 2016 | Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art | Admission free

This exhibition will look at the works, lectures and ‘actions’ Richard Demarco commissioned from Joseph Beuys, the innovative and inspirational German postwar artist, from 1970 until Beuys’ death in 1986. Demarco, an avant-garde gallerist in Edinburgh, recognized the visionary quality of Beuys’s work and visited him in Oberkassel in January 1970. Determined to focus Beuys’ attention on Scotland, he presented him with a set of postcards. Beuys responded with, ‘I see the land of Macbeth, so when shall we two meet again, in thunder, lightning or in rain?’ They reunited in stormy Edinburgh later that year and Demarco led him northwards along the ancient track he calls ‘The Road to Meikle Seggie’. This initial experience of the Scottish landscape inspired Beuys and laid the foundation for a remarkable artistic relationship.

Beuys exhibited three works at the groundbreaking exhibition of Düsseldorf artists Demarco hosted at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1970, 'Strategy: Get Arts’ – his famous installation The Pack, the first manifestation of his work Arena as a large photographic environment and the performance of an ‘action’ together with Henning Christiansen, Celtic (Kinloch Rannoch) Scottish Symphony. He was invited back by Demarco on numerous occasions to perform ‘actions’ including Three Pots for the Poorhouse (1974), teach, give lectures, and to make works, most notably  New Beginnings are in the Offing (1981), which utilised the old Edinburgh Poorhouse doors. These works represent the significance of the relationship between Demarco and Beuys, as well as the influence Scotland had on Beuys’ oeuvre.

Image: Richard Demarco and Joseph Beuys at Edinburgh College of Art during the installation of Strategy Get Arts, August 1970 (detail) © Photograph by George Oliver. Courtesy of the Demarco European Art Foundation 2016