Joseph Beuys

Therapeuticum (1964)

About this artwork

The list-style structure seen in this work appears in several Beuys drawings of the 1960s. It shows Beuys using words to give structure to a drawing, and prefigures language and sound becoming an important part of the artist's later 'actions'. The list here is made up of the names of healing plants, with some names covered with oil paint and fat. These substances are intended to 'absorb' or 'insulate' the words, performing the same role as the pieces of felt and slabs of fat in Beuys's sculptures.

see media
  • title: Therapeuticum
  • accession number: AR00117
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1964
  • measurements: 29.40 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.