Joseph Beuys

Braunkreuz (1962)

About this artwork

Beuys lets the medium take centre stage in this work. Made of five pieces of paper, it is titled after the distinctive brown oil paint the artist used, whose name translates as 'Brown cross'. Compared to his more delicate watercolour drawings of the 1950s, Beuys's Braunkreuz works are bold and have a sculptural aspect. The medium was named by the artist himself, whose love of language and word play is demonstrated in the name's composition, where two words compound to make a new word. This echoes the composition of the cross shape, where two elements intersect to form a third.

see media
  • title: Braunkreuz
  • accession number: AR00652
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1962
  • measurements: 70.00 x 100.00 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.