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Shakespeare made up over 3,000 words. Einstein’s theories started out as ideas. Freud thought our dreams were of vital importance. But when it comes to a total disregard for facts, nobody quite tops Joseph Beuys, the very special 20th-century German artist. For instance, much of Beuys’s artistic output is based on one extremely tall story. When he was rumbled in the 1980s, having propagated his myth for over 30 years, nobody really minded – it simply became part of his oeuvre as an artist.

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