Joseph Beuys

Acer Platanoides (1945)

About this artwork

The natural sciences were one of Beuys's great interests from an early age. As a child he collected and catalogued biological specimens and made a small laboratory in his house. His study was aided by a copy of Carl Linnaeus's book of classification for the natural world, 'Systema Naturae', which Beuys was able to save from a Nazi book burning at his school library. This is the earliest work by Beuys in the ARTIST ROOMS collection, made when the artist was twenty-four years old. The leaf is from a Norway maple tree, a species native to central and eastern Europe.

see media
  • title: Acer Platanoides
  • accession number: AR00630
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1945
  • measurements: 47.40 x 31.70 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.
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve
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.