Joseph Beuys

Houses of the Shaman (1965)

About this artwork

Shamanism is a recurring theme for Beuys. Although the shaman himself does not feature here, his presence is invoked by the depiction of his houses. It is fitting that Braunkreuz oil paint has been used to paint the houses, as one of the reasons Beuys began to use this specific type of paint was its similarity to the paint used for painting houses in rural areas of Germany. The matt, almost dusty texture of the paint reminds the viewer of the earth and our origins. The shaman, too, is a representative of man's primitive past and natural, uncultured personality.

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  • title: Houses of the Shaman
  • accession number: AR00121
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1965
  • measurements: 35.90 x 25.90 cm; support (right): 35.30 x 25.50 mm
  • 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.