Joseph Beuys

Untitled (1965)

About this artwork

Thick wedges of fat are a distinctive material used in Beuys's sculptures, but he also made use of fat in his works on paper. The yellowed edge of the paper here shows where it has been dipped in liquid fat, smearing some of the pencil. Fat is a material with numerous associations for the artist, and one which is not traditionally associated with art. The fact it can be used in both its solid and liquid states represents its ability for chemical and physical change. The significance of the carefully crossed out list of numbers is unknown, but suggests a methodical process or countdown.

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  • title: Untitled
  • accession number: AR00671
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1965
  • measurements: 20.90 x 29.70 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.