Joseph Beuys

Untitled (1961)

About this artwork

This pencil drawing has a mysterious and frustrating aspect. The elongated shapes look like words which have been deliberately and artfully scribbled over. Floating like clouds at the top of the page, they are out of our reach as we cannot read what they say, but the viewer's attention is therefore transferred to the shapes on the page and the quality of the medium. In some of Beuys's drawings which include text, the artist covered selected words with materials like Braunkreuz oil paint to let the medium 'absorb' them.

see media
  • title: Untitled
  • accession number: AR00651
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1961
  • measurements: 29.70 x 20.90 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.