Joseph Beuys

Three Pots for the Poorhouse - Action Object

About this artwork

This work is the record or embodiment of an 'Action' performed by Joseph Beuys in the dilapidated, former Edinburgh poorhouse on 10 June 1974. Beuys used three new cooking pots, painted black, to represent the human attribute of thinking, feeling and will. He walked slowly around the edges of one of the rooms offering up the pots to each of the walls. The pots were then put on the floor and tied to a pair of blackboards on which Beuys drew diagrams and works relating to the 'Action'.

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  • title: Three Pots for the Poorhouse - Action Object
  • accession number: GMA 1318
  • artist: Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Sculpture
  • subject: Rich and poor
  • materials: Two blackboards with chalk, three cast-iron pots, cord
  • date created: 1974
  • measurements: Boards 117.50 x 119.50 cm, 120.00 x 119.20 cm; pots 13.00 x 28.50 x 21.00 cm each
  • credit line: Purchased 1974
  • copyright: © DACS 2016.
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

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.