Joseph Beuys

Aktrice [Actress] (1964)

About this artwork

The subject of this drawing, the actress, recalls Beuys's drawings of the 1950s where women appeared frequently in the guise of actresses or sometimes witches. At that time, the women were shown as intangible, almost mythical figures. Here, however, the figure has been drawn in more detail, with the face individualised to a greater extent than previously seen. Her bracelets and the tool in her hand suggest a tribal association but also stress the active side of the female principle. Yet Beuys still keeps her within the confines of a narrow triangle, showing her without context and unable to interact with the rest of the world.

see media
  • title: Aktrice [Actress]
  • accession number: AR00663
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1964
  • measurements: 56.80 x 20.80 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.