Naturgeschichte [Natural History]
© DACS 2008

Reference URL

Naturgeschichte [Natural History] 1964-1982
  • Artist Rooms
The title given to this object relates it to Max Ernst's 'Histoire Naturelle' (Natural History) portfolio, published in 1926. Ernst used the technique of frottage to create fantastical drawings based on rubbings taken from woodgrain. Beuys has gone directly to the source of Ernst's images by presenting a piece of wood which is beautifully textured and neatly cut into a square. This work shows that Ernst's interest in the potential of the natural world was shared by Beuys. The two German artists also share a 'rebirth' myth, as Ernst claimed to have 'died' at the start of the First World War and been resuscitated in 1918.

Glossary Open

Frottage

A technique in which paper or canvas is placed over a grainy surface and rubbed with a crayon or charcoal. This was often used by Surrealist artists to create chance effects. From the French word ‘frotter’, meaning ‘to rub’.

Portfolio

A group of art works, by one or more artists, issued or housed together in a portfolio case. This often applies to photographs or prints, and portfolios often include a title page or introductory text. The term is also used to describe a group of works which exemplify an artist's work overall.

Frottage, Portfolio

Details

  • Acc. No. AR00666
  • Medium Household paint, shellac and sand on board
  • Size 33.30 x 36.60 x 3.50 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