Joseph Beuys: Drawings After the Codices Madrid of Leonardo da Vinci

Joseph Beuys: Drawings After the Codices Madrid of Leonardo da Vinci will be OPENING to the public on Saturday 14th May between 12 noon and 4 pm and afterwards by appointment.
Beuys was a gifted draughtsman and printmaker, and many find a haunting beauty in his works.
His delicate, if not febrile and dynamic approach to drawing, suggests an immediacy of action from his imagination to direct execution in his hands, into the extremities of his fingertips, in the direction of the paper on which he worked.
A group of works titled, Drawings After the Codices Madrid of Leonardo da Vinci, were part of the "raw material" for a multiple that Joseph Beuys made in 1979 response to two manuscripts by Leonardo da Vinci that had been (re)discovered in 1965 at the National Library of Madrid, the originals of which are held by DIA.
A selection of these drawings was published in a book of the same title by ‘DIA Centre for the Arts’ in 1998 and are displayed in the exhibition.

Also featured will be selections of Joseph Beuys - Four books from ‘Projekt Westmensch’, 1958 1992. The exhibition highlights the ideas of Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition, as described by Beuys.

Joseph Beuys, Rose for Direct Democracy, 1973, graduated glass cylinder with inscription, 33.5 x 5 cm dia. Edition Staeck, Heidelberg.

AKTION 13 May – 4 June 2022 Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) was a populist. His famous dictum that “everyone is an artist” challenged the well-worn trope of artists as a niche class of cultural artisans by offering to the public the new social possibility that art is everywhere, and everyone is making it.

From the mid-1960s, Beuys's democratic vision for art lead him to begin producing unlimited edition multiples to make art more accessible and affordable for the people and thus to engage with a larger audience. In 1967, Beuys took an overt political turn. Between 1967 and 1986, he was foundational in the creation of German Green Party die Grünen, established several political action groups, a free university, and even campaigned for public office.

His concept of soziale Plastik, “social sculpture,” contended that everyday actions as forms of human creativity have the potential to restructure and reshape society. In the same period, Beuys created the installation 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks), a project initiated in Kassel at documenta 7 in 1982.

The project refigured the realm of art as a place for public debate: reconciling with not only the town and its politicians but also the quarrelling citizens. Aktion presents a selection of multiples, documentation of 7000 Eichen, and video works to focus on the connection between Beuys’s populism, political activities and his art.


99% is open Thursday to Saturday 12-5pm.

Or alternatively by appointment on request via emailing

There are two entries to the Nicholas Building through which to access the Cathedral Arcade and the building’s elevators. The first entrance is on Swanston Street and is at street level and the second is via a set of steps from Flinders Lane.

99% is located on the seventh floor in Room 3.

Getting there

Walk, cycle, or take public transport either tram or train. The nearest tram stop is Town Hall/Collins St, which services several trams. Flinders Street Station is a 2-minute walk away.

99% acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which it operates, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation and pays respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

This exhibition is generously supported by the Joseph Beuys Cafe, Australia Council for the Arts and Curatorial Programme, Monash University.

For all gallery enquiries please contact

Photo: Kate Meakin