Joseph Beuys

Felt Suit (1970)

About this artwork

Beuys began producing works in multiples in the 1960s, partly as a way to combat the elitism of the art world. This is probably his most famous multiple. It has its origins in the performance 'Action the Dead Mouse / Isolation Unit' of 1970, where Beuys wore a felt suit with lengthened arms and legs, like the one seen here. He described the suit as an extension of the sculptures he made with felt, where the material's insulating properties were integral to the meaning of the work. Beuys intended this concept of warmth to extend beyond the material to encompass what he described as "spiritual warmth or the beginning of an evolution".

see media
  • title: Felt Suit
  • accession number: AR00092
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Decorative and applied art
  • date created: 1970
  • measurements: 166.00 x 66.00 x 26.00 mm
  • 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.