Houses of the Shaman
© DACS 2008

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Houses of the Shaman 1965
  • Artist Rooms
Shamanism is a recurring theme for Beuys. Although the shaman himself does not feature here, his presence is invoked by the depiction of his houses. It is fitting that Braunkreuz oil paint has been used to paint the houses, as one of the reasons Beuys began to use this specific type of paint was its similarity to the paint used for painting houses in rural areas of Germany. The matt, almost dusty texture of the paint reminds the viewer of the earth and our origins. The shaman, too, is a representative of man's primitive past and natural, uncultured personality.

Glossary Open


A medium invented, and first used, by the German artist Joseph Beuys in the late 1950s. It literally translates as ‘brown cross’. Composed of a mixture of paint and blood, it evokes images of rust, dirt, excrement and blood. As a term it has associations with Christianity, Nazism, National Socialism, war and the occult. By varying the qualities of the component parts, Beuys could experiment with the colour, density and texture of this unusual material.



  • Acc. No. AR00121
  • Medium 2 works on paper, oil paint and graphite
  • Size 35.90 x 25.90 cm; support (right): 35.30 x 25.50 mm
  • 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