Joseph Beuys

Sostanza Plastica (1965)

About this artwork

The title of this work means 'Plastic Substance' in Italian. Although German by birth, Beuys's use of words from different languages (often English) in his work shows the artist's pan-european perspective, and his love of language. The familiar medium of Braunkreuz oil paint is central to this painting. Taken nearly to the edges of the page, the uneven edges and patchy areas of the paint recall the medium's origins as a cheap domestic paint used for houses in rural areas.

see media
  • title: Sostanza Plastica
  • accession number: AR00667
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1965
  • measurements: 60.80 x 52.70 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.