The Why?s Man

"My art is place specific and people specific." George Wyllie

Back to Influences on George Wyllie


"New beginnings are in the offing." Joseph Beuys


Like George Wyllie, Beuys was born in 1921. In the Second World War he was a gunner in German airforce, the Luftwaffe and it was after the war that he became a full-time artist. His ideas were not wholly accepted and there was only one major retrospective exhibition of his work during his lifetime.

George Wyllie met Joseph Beuys in 1981. He and Dawson Murray assisted when Richard Demarco brought Beuys and his Poor House Doors to Edinburgh, although Wyllie had become aware of his work much earlier, in 1970, through Demarco's Strategy-Get-Arts, the first major exhibition of German avant-garde art since the war.

In 1986 Wyllie erected a spire at Rannoch Moor to commemorate that 1970 visit of Bueys to Scotland. It was the first of many he went on to create, and a tribute to the influence Beuys had had on him.

Later, Wyllie recognised that influence again, saying...

"My 'Stones of Scotland' and my spires are a wee bit influenced by Beuys'
planting of 7,000 oak trees near Kassel: Just the balance of nature, the air, the stone, the equilibrium,
we being the manipulators of the equilibrium."

Perhaps the biggest influence which Beuys had on George Wyllie was his belief that art would be a force for good in society, and that it could take place outside of the gallery. George Wyllie said of Beuys in 1990, when the society of Scottish Artists made its contribution to Glasgow's year as European City of Culture with Burns, Beuys and Beyond that...

"Beuys understood the need for balance between art and science.
He introduced the 'International Free University' and the idea of 'social sculpture'...
He proclaimed "Everyone an Artist" - not advocating more easels and paint-brushes,
but the adoption of the attitude of the meaningful artist, by all trades, professions and vocations."

The artists also shared a view that the way society had of dealing with money required to be changed, with Beuys concluding in his Appeal for an Alternative, that changes could be made for the better, and Wyllie presenting his critique in his own style in A Day Down a Goldmine.


Stones of Scotland

Voyage beyond the bathtub


A Day Down a Goldmine

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