Joseph Beuys

Untitled (1959)

About this artwork

A pencil drawing is visible beneath the thick, dark oil paint of this work. Although it looks as if the artist might have been dissatisfied with the drawing and decided to paint over it, it was most likely a deliberate action to include both the pencil and paint elements. The grey oil paint seems like an unusual choice for Beuys, who frequently used the distinctive brown Braunkreuz paint when he wished to use a neutral colour. However, as with the composition of the work, the colour choice would have been intentional.

see media
  • title: Untitled
  • accession number: AR00644
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1959
  • measurements: 27.90 x 21.40 cm (framed: 42.00 x 29.60 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.