Beuys’ Acorns

Bloomberg Arcade, 17 July - 7 Sept 2019


Designed in collaboration with Exploration Architecture 

Twelve years growing from acorn, Beuys’ Acorns declares a climate and ecological emergency.   The world is on a precipice where the lungs of the planet – forests, trees, plants and the multi-species they support – need to be protected as the topmost level of international security.

The work is a dynamic, living installation comprising fifty-two trees (of 200) grown from acorns collected from German artist Joseph Beuys’s monumental 1982 artwork, 7000 Oaks. This is the first showing of Beuys’ Acorns since 2015.

The saplings that make up Beuys’ Acorns have become a living research project on the cultural, biological and climatic significance of trees. As London faces a climate emergency, the installation at Bloomberg Arcade aims to act as a catalyst for conversation around ecology, conservation and the interdependence between humankind and perceptions of the natural world.

Trees up to 2.5 metres tall are raised on specially designed tripods, connected to a water bowser by a system of irrigation tubes. These are illuminated by low-energy LED lights that are precisely tuned to photosynthetic wavelengths for optimum sustainability. Developed in  partnership with Exploration Architecture, the design for the Bloomberg site both literally and symbolically elevates the trees, raising questions about our relationship with plants and the living world.

Two million people in London – including 400,000 children – are living in areas with illegal levels of air pollution. According to data from Bloomberg-supported charity Trees for Cities, London’s trees remove 2.4 million tonnes of air pollution each year, including carbon dioxide, dust and other gaseous toxins. Urban trees also absorb noise, lower temperature through shading and provide green spaces for communities.

Beuys, regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, considered 7000 Oaks to be his most important work. Based on the belief that art must be a force for social change, it was considered an artistic and ecological intervention in a rapidly urbanizing world. 

Beuys’ Acorns is one of a series of Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported public artworks that aim to inspire climate action in cities around the world, including Olafur Eliasson’s Ice Watch. 

Beuys’ Acorns at Bloomberg Arcade will be part of London’s first National Park City Festival (20-28 July 2019) and will be supported by a series of curated events and conversations responding to the themes of climate change, conservation and sustainability.