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From the Collection–Felt Suit by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys (German, 1921–1986), Felt Suit (Filzanzug), 1970. Felt. Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Norman and Donna Hodgson, by exchange, M1989.74. Photo credit: P. Richard Eells. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Joseph Beuys (German, 1921–1986), Felt Suit (Filzanzug), 1970. Felt. Milwaukee Art Museum, gift of Norman and Donna Hodgson, by exchange, M1989.74. Photo credit: P. Richard Eells. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
A man’s suit is not an unusual sight within an art museum – though usually one would expect such a garment to be worn by a visitor, and not hanging up on the wall as a work of art itself. Yet this is the case with Joseph Beuys’ artwork, entitled Felt Suit (Flizanzug). It consists of simply that: a man’s suit, made entirely of a soft grey felt, suspended neatly on a hanger on the museum wall. In the large gallery space, surrounded by brightly-colored canvases and monumental works of sculpture, this piece seems quite out-of-place. It is easy to imagine amusing backstories for the existence of this intriguing piece of clothing–perhaps a curator had brought a suit to change into for an evening event, yet had no room to hang it in his office, so he simply wandered into the galleries and hung it upon an unused nail?