Joseph Beuys

Schmela (1966)

About this artwork

The title of the work refers to Alfred Schmela, the German artist and owner of Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf. Schmela was a promoter of avant garde art and an early supporter of Beuys. Beuys first met Schmela in 1958, and was introduced to Yves Klein by the gallerist. He performed some of his 'actions' at Galerie Schmela, including the infamous 1965 performance 'How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare'. This painting in Braunkreuz oil looks to be of a figure at the edge of a cliff, perhaps suggesting Schmela's risky role as pioneer of new and cutting-edge art.

see media
  • title: Schmela
  • accession number: AR00676
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1966
  • measurements: 40.00 x 56.40 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.