Joseph Beuys

Filz Aktion [Felt Action] (1963)

About this artwork

Beuys began to perform his 'actions' in public in 1963 in connection with the Fluxus group. This painting does not appear to relate to a particular 'action' but includes a piece of felt, one of the artist's 'signature' materials which he used in both sculptures and 'actions'. His 'action' of 1964, 'The Chief', involved the artist being wrapped in a blanket of felt. The figure shown here is depicted with sweeping brushstrokes and drips of Braunkreuz oil paint, suggesting that the intended 'action' involved movement.

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  • title: Filz Aktion [Felt Action]
  • accession number: AR00700
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 1963
  • measurements: 64.70 x 43.40 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.