Joseph Beuys

Dumme Kiste [Dumb Box] (1982)

About this artwork

The simplicity of this box is reminiscent of the work of Minimalist artists, like Donald Judd or Carl Andre. However, Beuys felt that Minimalist art was too far away from the disorder of real life. Yet, in the same way that Judd and Andre made industrial materials look beautiful, Beuys's work was also directed by his love of materials and desire to explore their properties. Here, the neatly cut felt acts as a soft, organic buffer between the sheets of copper. It may be the material's insulating properties which provide the sculpture with its name.

see media
  • title: Dumme Kiste [Dumb Box]
  • accession number: AR00622
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Sculpture
  • date created: 1982
  • measurements: 47.00 x 108.00 x 63.00 cm
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
  • copyright: © DACS 2016.
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

German artist Beuys believed that art was integral to everyday life. His own art was shaped by an experience early in his life. As a Luftwaffe pilot during the war, Beuys was shot down over the Crimea and was saved by nomadic Tartars. Barely alive, he was wrapped in felt and fat which preserved his body heat, and taken to safety on sledges pulled by dogs. This incident, and these particular elements, informed much of his art, which has a redemptive, mystical and ritualistic character. Central to his work were his 'Actions', which involved teaching, audience discussion and performance. The recurrent themes were social and political. Associated with the ecological movement - he was a founder member of the Green Party - he also had a strong influence on German politics.