Joseph Beuys

Untitled (1959 - 1960)

About this artwork

Mounted between two sheets of plexiglass and displayed in a zinc frame, this drawing has been transformed into a three-dimensional object. The conical shapes are reminiscent of stylised cooling towers from a power station, complete with smoke at the top. This reflects the artist's interest in sources of heat and power. The two crosses represent positive energy. Beuys's choice of zinc for the frame would have been a deliberate one, as he chose his materials for the qualities they represented. Zinc is a metallic element and an essential mineral for life, but equally is poisonous in high concentrations.

see media
  • title: Untitled
  • accession number: AR00646
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1959 - 1960
  • measurements: 20.00 x 29.20 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.