Joseph Beuys

Beobachtung für Katze [Observation on the Cat] (1956)

About this artwork

Amongst the flurry of pencil lines in this drawing, we can make out parts of a cat – claws, head, ears, teeth and limbs appear, with a long striped body at the bottom corner. Beuys's approach to drawing has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci in its investigative manner. Like Leonardo, Beuys had the enquiring mind of a scientist and the same interest in understanding the natural world. This work shows the artist's exploration of the shape of his subject, building form by assembling shapes. It shows how Beuys used drawing as a way of exploring the world, as well as capturing his ideas.

see media
  • title: Beobachtung für Katze [Observation on the Cat]
  • accession number: AR00104
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1956
  • measurements: 31.60 x 24.10 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.