Joseph Beuys

Ice Age (1951)

About this artwork

In this work, Beuys has drawn several repeated shapes which appear to represent the outline of a woolly mammoth. Although animals of all kinds appear in Beuys's drawings, the mammoth represents not only nature but also pre-history. He was fascinated by anything which served as a reminder of the earth's great age, from rock formations to fossil fuels. In connection with his artistic exploration of sources of energy and heat, Beuys's scientific mind may also have been interested in the warm coat of the animal and its process of secreting a greasy fat into its hair in order to stay warm.

see media
  • title: Ice Age
  • accession number: AR00096
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1951
  • measurements: 62.20 x 29.70 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.