Joseph Beuys

Schmied II [Blacksmith II] (1958)

About this artwork

In this pencil drawing, we see a statuesque male figure walking purposefully and holding a hammer, the tool of his trade. Beuys had a cousin who was a blacksmith and the artist showed an early interest in the trade, learning how to cast and forge iron when he was young. However, in later years, he would undoubtedly have been interested in the science behind the process and the changes that takes place in the metal to allow it to be shaped and formed. Blacksmiths appear in the legends of many cultures. Widely knowledgeable on legend and folklore, Beuys would have been aware of the Roman God Vulcan and the blacksmith Wayland Smith from Germanic legend.

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  • title: Schmied II [Blacksmith II]
  • accession number: AR00108
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1958
  • measurements: 21.00 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.