Joseph Beuys

For Brown Environment: Giant Vessels (1964)

About this artwork

Beuys's environments developed from the artist's performed 'actions' and his glass cases (vitrines) containing objects. They were large-scale installations which allowed the artist to extend the boundaries of three-dimensional objects by 'staging' an environment, like a theatre set. Environments allowed Beuys to 'freeze' a moment from an 'action', and like the 'actions' and vitrines, a central concept of the environments was Beuys's use of everyday materials. In distinctive matt brown Braunkreuz oil paint, this work sets the tone for a monochromatic environment in the artist's signature colour. Dominated by a phallic shape, the painting may reflect an intention to use organic curves or rolls of felt in the environment.

see media
  • title: For Brown Environment: Giant Vessels
  • accession number: AR00120
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1964
  • measurements: 76.60 x 74.10 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.