1973 Manifesto

on the foundation of 

The Free International School for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research

 by Joseph Beuys and Heinrich Böll


Creativity is not limited to people practicing one of the traditional forms of art, and even in the case of artists creativity is not confined to the exercise of their art.  Each one of us has a creative potential which is hidden by competitiveness and success-aggression.  To recognize, explore and develop this potential is the task of the school.

 Creation—whether it be a painting, sculpture, symphony or novel, involves not merely talent, intuition, powers of imagination and application, but also the ability to shape material that could be expanded to other socially relevant spheres.

 Conversely, when we consider the ability to organize material that is expected of a worker, a housewife, a farmer, doctor, philosopher, judge or works manager, we find that their work by no means exhausts the full range of their creative abilities.

 Whereas the specialist’s insulated point of view places the arts and other kinds of work in sharp opposition, it is in fact crucial that the structural, formal and thematic problems of the various work processes should be constantly compared with one another.

 The school does not discount the specialist, nor does it adopt an anti-technological stance.  It does, however reject the idea of experts and technicians being the sole arbiters in their respective fields.  In a spirit of democratic creativity, without regressing to merely mechanical defensive or aggressive clichés, we shall discover the inherent reason in things.

 In a new definition of creativity the terms professional and dilettante are surpassed, and the fallacy of the unworldly artist and the alienated non-artist is abandoned.

 The founders of the school look for creative stimulation from foreigners working here.  This is not to say that it is a prerequisite that we learn from them or that they learn from us.  Their cultural traditions and way of life call forth an exchange of creativity that must go beyond preoccupation with varying art forms to a comparison of the structures, formulations and verbal expressions of the material pillars of social life:  law, economics, science, religion, and then move on to the investigation or exploration of the “creativity of the democratic.”

 The creativity of the democratic is increasingly discouraged by the progress of bureaucracy, coupled with the aggressive proliferation of an international mass culture.  Political creativity is being reduced to the mere delegation of decision and power.  The imposition of an international cultural and economic dictatorship by the constantly expanding combines leads to a loss of articulation, learning and the quality of verbal expression.

 In the consumer society, creativity, imagination and intelligence, not articulated, their expression prevented, become defective, harmful and damaging—in contrast to a democratic society—and find outlets in corrupted criminal creativity.  Criminality can arise from boredom, from inarticulated creativity.   To be reduced to consumer values, to see democratic potential reduced to the occasional election, this can also be regarded as a rejection or a dismissal of democratic creativity.

 Environmental pollution advances parallel with a pollution of the world within us.  Hope is denounced as utopian or as illusionary, and discarded hope breeds violence.  In the school we shall research into the numerous forms of violence, which are by no means confined to those of weapons or physical force.

 As a forum for the confrontation of political or social opponents, the school can set up a permanent seminar on social behavior and its articulate expression.

 The founders of the school proceed from the knowledge that since 1945, along with the brutality of the reconstruction period, the gross privileges afforded by monetary reforms, the crude accumulation of possessions and an upbringing resulting in an expense account mentality, many insights and initiatives have been prematurely shattered.  The realistic attitude of those who do survive, the idea that living might be the purpose of existence, has been denounced as a romantic fallacy.  The Nazis’ blood and soil doctrine, which ravaged the land and spilled the blood, has disturbed our relation to tradition and environment.  Now, however, it is no longer regarded as romantic but exceedingly realistic to fight for every tree, every plot of undeveloped land, every stream as yet unpoisoned, every old town center, and against every thoughtless reconstruction scheme.  And it is no longer considered romantic to speak of nature.  In the permanent trade competition and performance of the two German political systems which have successfully exerted themselves for world recognition, the values of life have been lost.  Since the school’s concern is with the values of life we shall stress the consciousness of solidarity.  The school is based on the principle of interaction, whereby no institutional distinction is drawn between the teachers and the taught.  The school’s activity will be accessible to the public, and it will conduct its work in the public eye.  Its open and international character will be constantly reinforced by exhibitions and events in keeping with the concept of creativity.

 “Non-artists” could initially be encouraged to discover or explore their creativity by artists attempting to communicate and to explain—in an undidactic manner—the elements and the coordination of their creativity.  At the same time we would seek to find out why laws and disciplines in the arts invariably stant in creative opposition to established law and order.

 It is not the aim of the school to develop political and cultural directions, or to form styles, or to provide industrial and commercial prototypes.  Its chief goal is the encouragement, discovery and furtherance of democratic potential, and the expression of this.  In a world increasingly manipulated by publicity, political propaganda, the culture business and the press, it is not to the named—but the nameless—that it will offer a forum.



1.         Drawing                                              2.         Drawing


            Painting                                                          Sculpture

            Theory of Color                                              Plastic Art


                                     Intermediary Disciplines


            Workshop                                                       Joinery

            Graphic Technique                                         Metalwork



3.         Theory of Knowledge                         4.         Social behavior


                                                                                    Criticism of Critical-behavior


5.         Pedagogy                                            6.         Phenomenology of History

            Methodology                                                  Phenomenology of Art

            Dialectics                                                        Manifestation of History in Art


            Critical Criticism                                           Criticism of Art


7.         Verbal Articulation                            8.         Sensory Theory

            Theory of Information                                                Pictorial Representation


The Stage



 I N S T I T U T E S


Institute of Ecology

Institute for Evolutionary Science


All the terms contained in the syllabus are to be understood only in the context of the creativity-terminology as explained in the manifesto.

Reprinted in Energy Plan for the Western Man:  Joseph Beuys in America, Writings by and Interviews with the Artist, compiled by Carin Kuoni.  New York:  Four Walls Eight Windows, 1990.

 Comments from one of Beuys' Biographers:

In this Beuysian school—which, as the master and his fellow campaigners constantly reiterated, was not intended as a private teaching venue for Beuys himself—the primary objective was to reactivate the “life values” that had been buried by indifference, habit, disenchantment, aggression, war, violence, and environmental decay; and to do so through a creative interchange, on a basis of equality, between teachers and learners.  The syllabus was to offer, along with the traditional art specialties, “intermediate disciplines.”…

 In a number of notes on this syllabus, [professor of painting Georg] Meistermann, who had years of experience as a teacher in the Düsseldorf and Karlsruhe academies, pointed to the dangers of technological progress: it often leads, in Meistermann’s view, to physical and psychic depression, “because the individual can no longer remain open to what is within himself.”  This is where the Free University comes in , “to liberate individuals from their isolation:”

The most sensitive of human beings, they prefer inner withdrawal over contact based on misunderstandings….The state of the art schools is not one that promotes an integration of artists with society.  Therefore the Free University proposes to explore comprehensively the ineraction between the life of the individual and that of society, and to this end it intends to concentrate on the issue of social behavior.”

 …Beuys saw the FIU as an experiment in education across the board.  He stressed once more that there were to be no tests, no examinations, no limitation on number of students, no age limits.  The school was to be public and under control of the public.  The teachers would receive limited contracts instead of official tenure.  Heinrich Böll, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, was prepared to make himself available—initially as a consultant, and later as an “instructor in literality theory,” which meant that he would help with difficulties in articulation and, conceivably, with bringing the vocabularies of the various disciplines closer together.  As for the interdisciplinary syllabus, no limits on subjects were set.  Böll even suggested setting up a professorship of politeness.

 It is typical of Beuys that he was not discouraged even by such setbacks as the failure to find financing.  Undaunted, he went right on campaigning for his Free University “sculpture.”  

 pp 115-117,  Joseph Beuys by Heiner Stachelhaus (1987), translated by David Britt, New York, Abbeville Press Publishers, 1991













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