Joseph Beuys

Granite in Arid Chalk (1965)

About this artwork

Two opposing elements are brought together in this painting, as Beuys combines hot and cold by depicting granite and chalk. Granite is an igneous rock, formed when molten rock cools and solidifies, and chalk is a sedimentary rock, formed by layers of mineral and organic material. Although the bright red granite looks like fire, it is in fact the cooler of the two elements when touched. Likewise, while the chalk is drier and 'arid', it is much warmer to the touch. Beuys has chosen two vastly different elements which also operate in reverse and at odds with their appearance.

see media
  • title: Granite in Arid Chalk
  • accession number: AR00123
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Watercolour
  • date created: 1965
  • measurements: 29.70 x 20.80 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.