- Artist Rooms
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Score for MANRESA is a pencil and collage work on paper by the German artist Joseph Beuys that is related to his action event Manresa, staged by Beuys and two Danish artists at Galerie Schmela in Dusseldörf on 15 December 1966. The drawing is on a horizontal sheet of thick cream paper with a vertical fold down its centre that splits the paper into two equal halves. Across its surface the paper has yellow discolouration, creases and signs of wear. On the left side of the sheet is a roughly torn piece of white paper, which has been glued onto the cream support. Graphite pencil has been run around the torn edge of this irregular white paper shape to emphasise the shadowing and layering of the collage. The shape has three triangular forms drawn in pencil on its surface. On the right side of the sheet are two square shapes, an equilateral triangle that has been divided into three uneven segments, and a Latin cross split in two lengthways, with the left half suggested only by a wavering dotted outline. Score for MANRESA is signed, titled and dated on its reverse. The Manresa action was named after a small town in Catalonia, Spain where Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, formulated his ‘Spiritual Exercises’ in the early sixteenth century. This work is one of many preparatory studies for Manresa, which the artist collectively termed Partituren (Scores). There are many further drawings by Beuys known as ‘scores’ which do not appear to be related to a specific action. Some, such as Score 1967 (Tate AR00678) seem almost wholly abstract. The curator Ann Temkin has stated that: ‘Beuys’s Partituren possess an autonomous existence as unique drawings, but also emphasize their connection to the event they document, to the artist/performer who created them, and to his larger body of work.’ (Temkin and Rose 1993, pp.56–7.)
Score for MANRESA has some oil staining in the top right corner of the sheet and at the apex of the equilateral triangle, which suggests the presence of fat, one of the key recurring materials used by the artist in his performances, drawings, sculptures and installations, such as Fat Chair 1964–85 (Tate AR00088) and Fat Battery 1963 (Tate T03919). The artist’s use of fat stems from a possibly apocryphal wartime encounter with the nomadic Tartar people, who wrapped Beuys in fat and felt to keep him insulated after his German warplane crashed in the Crimea in 1943. The art historian Friedhelm Mennekes claims of Manresa that: ‘Of the many items in the “action”, fat may be said to play the most important role. In Manresa it takes various forms: a ball of fat, a corner of fat; a filtered fat corner; thrown fat and dripping fat, running gradually down the wall.’ (Mennekes 1995, p.156.) All of the geometric elements in this small collage refer to the contents of the Manresa action. The various sculptural incarnations of these shapes are listed by Mennekes: ‘In the “action” the half-cross and a small square frame, the filter, are bound in felt; in addition, felt is spanned into a corner to form a tetrahedron.’ (Mennekes 1995, p.157.) The gallery was painted black for the action to further emphasise these structural additions to the space. Temkin has outlined the artist’s endeavour:
Beuys’s activity involved several components. The largest was a tall half-cross built of wood and coated in felt, labelled with a sign as “Element 1”. A wooden box containing electrical apparatus and miscellaneous items such as a rosemary plant was labelled “Element 2”. The half-cross denoted contemporary man’s divided self, as a rational but not a spiritual being. Element 2, which Beuys used to generate sparks during the action, provided the element of intuition. Beuys also used a sculpture from the early 1950s entitled Plate Crucifix, as well as felt and fat corners, and a wind-up toy bird, which he released into the air at the conclusion.
(Temkin and Rose 1993, p.54.)
Also part of ARTIST ROOMS is Beuys’s Object for Manresa 1966 (Tate AR00673), a small cardboard circle hanging from a piece of string, which was used by the artist during the action – at some point worn over his back, as various documentary photographs show. There are also posters for a series of exhibitions that took place across Europe and America during the 1990s of the extensive photographic documentation of Manresa, thirty years after the event at Galerie Schmela (Tate AR00820, AR00970 and AR01098). These posters show the tall felt-coated half-cross and other items involved in the action. Together with Score for MANRESA and Object for Manresa, this group of works represents the planning stages, event itself, and afterlife of the action as it continues to exist through documentation. As the art historian Ulf Jensen writes of Beuys’s actions of the 1960s, including Manresa:
Alongside the material aspect of his works, performative elements such as gesture, mime, and position in space became increasingly important. Unlike the performances of his artist colleagues, Beuys’s actions did not incorporate the audience into the concept. His actions functioned as living images, generating their power through the distance between the viewer and the sphere of artistic activity. Many photographers and filmmakers documented the actions, which were planned by means of sketches and scores.
(Ulf Jensen in Ackermann and Malz 2010, p.148.)
Ann Temkin and Bernice Rose (eds.), Thinking is Form: The Drawings of Joseph Beuys, exhibition catalogue, Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York 1993, reproduced p.215.
Friedhelm Mennekes, ‘Joseph Beuys’ MANRESA’, trans. by Fiona Elliott in David Thistlewood (ed.), Joseph Beuys: Diverging Critiques, Liverpool 1995, pp.149–64.
Marion Ackermann and Isabelle Malz (eds.), Joseph Beuys, Parallel Processes, exhibition catalogue, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf 2010.
- Acc. No. AR00124
- Medium Paper and graphite on paper
- Size 20.80 x 29.60 cm
- Credit 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
Joseph Beuys (German, 1921 - 1986)
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.
Works in which the actions of the artist constitute the art. Artists have used performance techniques throughout the 20th century but the term is usually applied to works from the 1960s onwards.