Joseph Beuys

Motor 4 (1964-1980)

About this artwork

This collage returns to the theme of energy which Beuys explored many times. He has used a variety of everyday materials for this work, including acid and aluminium foil. Although these are traditionally unusual to include in an artwork, they are among many humble materials the artist favoured. In particular, the acid causes and represents decay, and Beuys would have used it to make this chemical process become part of the work. The three drawings on the pieces of paper which have been attached to the cardboard are presumably of components which are part of the 'motor' of the work's title.

see media
  • title: Motor 4
  • accession number: AR00665
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1964-1980
  • measurements: 34.40 x 18.40 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.