Joseph Beuys

aus dem Leben der Bienen [From the Life of the Bees] (1954)

About this artwork

Bees were among the animals in which Beuys was most interested and they appear in his work through his life. While at art school he produced a series of drawings called 'Queen Bees', but his interest may have begun after reading the philosopher Rudolf Steiner's 1923 lecture on bees in which Steiner compared the functioning of a beehive to human society. Beuys viewed bees as a symbol of socialism due to the way in which they live and work together; he was also fascinated by the production of honey. The scientific apparatus featured in this drawing reappears in other works by Beuys of the mid-to late 1950s.

see media
  • title: aus dem Leben der Bienen [From the Life of the Bees]
  • accession number: AR00635
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Watercolour
  • date created: 1954
  • measurements: 50.20 x 68.50 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.