Joseph Beuys

For Siberian Symphony (1962)

About this artwork

This drawing relates to an 'action' of February 1963 called 'Siberian Symphony, Section I'. As part of the performance, the artist tore the heart from a dead hare and hung the animal on a blackboard. Lumps of clay were connected with wires, as can be seen to the right of this image. The shape at the bottom of the drawing is a grand piano with its lid up, an item also used in the performance. Beuys had been introduced to performance art by the Fluxus group and this was one of his first public performances, or 'actions'. It was performed for the 'Festum Fluxorum Fluxus' at Düsseldorf Academy, where Beuys taught as professor of sculpture.

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  • title: For Siberian Symphony
  • accession number: AR00655
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Watercolour
  • date created: 1962
  • measurements: 63.60 x 63.30 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.