Joseph Beuys, German, 1921 - 1986
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A World War II pilot who was shot down in Russia, Joseph Beuys described his mythical rescue by a small community of nomadic Tatars as the defining moment in his life as an artist, claiming that the nomads kept him alive and warm by wrapping him in felt and rubbing fat into his skin. For Beuys, one of the most important artists of the second half of the twentieth century, felt and fat came to signify survival as well as physical and spiritual nourishment, and these materials pervade his work. In Felt Suit, he evokes the absent figure of the artist as a healer, capable of caring for and transforming his audience and society.