Joseph Beuys’ Postcards

I got into reading about Joseph Beuys this weekend. I never thought much about him before I began this project, but someone gave me one of his wooden postcards recently so I just had to do some investigating. Here is what it looks like and a description.


Wooden Postcard [Holzpostkarte], 1974, Silkscreen on pine, 10.5 x 15 x 3.3 cm. Edition: unlimited, unsigned, unnumbered; approx. 600 copies signed and some stamped.

Joseph Beuys  (1921–1986) is described as a German Fluxus, happening and performance artist as well as a sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art. Between the late 1960s and his death in 1986, Beuys produced more than a hundred postcard multiples.  “Multiples” are artworks of which many copies are produced. While most of these postcards were made from paper, Wooden Postcard was created from a solid block of wood. Beuys made other postcards as part of this series from such unorthodox materials as felt, PVC plastic, iron and sulphur as part of this series.

In contrast to a standard postcard, which usually has an image on its front face and writing on its opposite side, these cards were created to communicate through the substances from which they were created, each of which possessed a symbolic significance for Beuys.

Wooden Postcard alludes to Beuys’s interest in promoting a more intimate relationship between humanity and the natural world. Believing that humanity had grown distant from nature in the modern era, Beuys attempted in his art to restore this lost contact. There were also recurring motifs in works suggesting that art, common materials, and one’s “everyday life” were ultimately inseparable.

Beuys’ career was characterized by passionate, even acrimonious public debate. He is now regarded as one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century.



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