unter Spannung [under Tension] (1964)
About this artwork
The title of this painting translates as 'Under Tension' or 'electrically live'. It depicts a machine or piece of scientific apparatus, with the conical and cylindrical shapes holding a long strip of metal under tension in a curved shape. Balanced on top of this, there looks to be another piece of metal with a lump of material at each end. Made in 1964, the drawing may relate to an 'action' performed by Beuys or might be a sketch for an unrealised 'action'. The artist included working machinery in his sculptures and 'actions'.
- title: unter Spannung [under Tension]
- accession number: AR00664
- artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Work on paper
- date created: 1964
- measurements: 29.60 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
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.