Joseph Beuys

Die Electrizitat [Electricity ] (1959)

About this artwork

The lower section of this three-part work appears to be a schematic drawing of a turbine. It may be the item which is intended to be fitted inside the box at the centre of the work, to power the propeller on the right. Beuys used the principle of electricity and machines in some of his sculpture, so this work may anticipate a later sculpture. Electricity was, for Beuys, part of the much larger issue of energy and, in particular, of ways in which the key issue of human energy (creativity) could be harnessed.

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  • title: Die Electrizitat [Electricity ]
  • accession number: AR00112
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Watercolour
  • date created: 1959
  • measurements: Each part: 23.80 x 33.60 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.