Joseph Beuys

Sonde im Blutkreislauf des Eiches [Probe in the bloodstream of the oak] (1958)

About this artwork

The area of blood-red paint at the centre of this collage is reminiscent of the heart, man's power source, anticipating the artist's later work with sources of energy. Although the red is tempera paint, Beuys did paint with hare's blood in some drawings. On the reverse of the paper, faintly seen from this side, is an architectural drawing of the Catholic Church in Lübeck, a northern German city. The elk or stag appears in many of Beuys's drawings and, according to myth, represented a spirit guide.

see media
  • title: Sonde im Blutkreislauf des Eiches [Probe in the bloodstream of the oak]
  • accession number: AR00634
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1958
  • measurements: 23.80 x 53.20 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.