Joseph Beuys

Untitled (1963)

About this artwork

The materials Beuys chose to use in his work were selected for very particular reasons. The metal the artist used most often was copper, which, as a very good conductor of heat and electricity, was sometimes combined with felt. Other metals he used were iron, zinc, steel, gold and silver, with each carrying distinct associations. This work uses silver paper. Silver is an excellent conductor and is also associated with medicine and healing, which would have interested the artist. It has been used throughout history to treat wounds and burns, and is renowned for its antibacterial properties.

see media
  • title: Untitled
  • accession number: AR00659
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1963
  • measurements: 50.80 x 36.30 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.