Joseph Beuys

Untitled (1980)

About this artwork

Food was an important medium for Beuys. Honey was probably the edible item he used most frequently, but his sculptures and 'actions' also included chocolate, butter, sausages and fish. Like the thick wedges of fat he was fond of using, food would degrade over time. This aspect of change and decay inherent in the material was part of its attraction to the artist, meaning that the final form of his sculptures was not fixed. In this collage Beuys has used a small fish mounted on a piece of fish skin. Fish has the added aspect of being a symbol of Christ.

see media
  • title: Untitled
  • accession number: AR00627
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Mixed media
  • subject: Food and drink
  • date created: 1980
  • measurements: 78.50 x 65.00 x 15.00 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.
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.