Joseph Beuys

Kreuz [Cross] (1961)

About this artwork

Crosses often appear in Beuys's work, typically daubed in brown paint or printed as part of a distinctive circular stamp. At one time, it was part of the artist's strategy to create new works by adding small brown crosses to pre-existing images. In this collage, the cross is the central focus rather than an addition. Its shape recalls the logo of the international relief agency The Red Cross, which links with the artist's interest in medicine and healing. More traditionally, it also recalls Christian iconography.

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  • title: Kreuz [Cross]
  • accession number: AR00649
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Watercolour
  • date created: 1961
  • measurements: 43.00 x 36.50 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.