Joseph Beuys

Untitled (1974)

About this artwork

Beuys was never seen in public without his felt trilby hat. It was one of the essential components of the image he carefully cultivated for himself. Symbolically, the hat insulated the artist's energetic brain, but more practically it helped to keep his head warm, as the head injuries he received in his wartime plane crash meant he was particularly susceptible to cold. In common with the beliefs of some tribes, Beuys saw the head as sacred. In his drawings the hat is one of the attributes of the shaman, and its presence also represents the presence of the artist.

see media
  • title: Untitled
  • accession number: AR00684
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1974
  • measurements: 20.80 x 14.80 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.