Joseph Beuys, Untitled, 1984
From the Guggenheim:
The vitrine Untitled (1984) contains Encounter with Beuys (1984), which consists of felt, fat, copper pieces, and cord, the materials he used repeatedly to describe significant events in his life. The first two materials refer to the pivotal incident in his biography, an alleged wartime plane crash in which mountain people saved his life by wrapping him in felt and fat; copper was used by Beuys to represent spiritual conduction, while cord as a readymade has fascinated artists from Piero Manzoni to Dorothea Rockburne. The placement of autobiographical objects in a vitrine relates particularly to his major 1985 exhibition in Naples, where he installed a series of golden plates and vitrines, suggesting the burial hall of a king. Beuys favored the vitrine for its ready association to ethnographic installations. As part of his fusion of rituals and their fetishes, he believed that art and artifacts could not always be distinguished from one another.