Joseph Beuys

The Centrifugal Forces of the Mountains (1953)

About this artwork

Beuys was fascinated by the natural world from a young age and this childhood interest stayed with him throughout his artistic career. Images of mountains like those in this three-part work are common in his drawings and explore the ways in which the forces of nature have shaped the environment for centuries. Beuys was drawn to subjects that serves as reminders to the earth’s great age, from rock formations to glaciers and fossil fuels. He was less interested in illustrating real mountains, instead focusing on what he called “an inner archetype of the idea of a mountain: the mountains of the self.”

see media
  • title: The Centrifugal Forces of the Mountains
  • accession number: AL00196
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1953
  • measurements: 28.60 x 21.00 cm
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by Anthony d'Offay 2010
  • 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.