Joseph Beuys

Night in the Rafters (1974)

About this artwork

The horizontal lines of this painting give the impression of looking up at rafters in the roof of a building. The medium of Braunkreuz paint was a favourite of Beuys, and one the artist had used since the 1950s. He used it not so much for its colour as for the sculptural quality it brought to his works on paper. The matt, almost dusty effect it created is also reminiscent of the earth. Animals often appear in Beuys's drawings and paintings, and three rat-like animals can be seen here, two of which appear to be fighting.

see media
  • title: Night in the Rafters
  • accession number: AR00126
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1974
  • measurements: 75.80 x 55.70 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.