Joseph Beuys

Clan (1958)

About this artwork

This drawing shows a group (or clan) of figures with the distinctive long ears of a hare. The hare is an animal which reappears frequently in Beuys's work, along with the stag. While the stag was connected to the upper (and male) part of the body, the hare was connected to the female / lower part of the body. It was also linked with the earth - Beuys compared the animal's shaping of the earth when burrowing underground to the process of human thought. Beuys's famous 1961 'action' 'How to explain pictures to a dead hare' featured the artist with his face covered in honey and gold leaf, explaining paintings to the dead animal.

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  • title: Clan
  • accession number: AR00107
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Watercolour
  • date created: 1958
  • measurements: 20.70 x 28.50 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.