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Braunkreuz 1962

On Display Modern Two

  • Artist Rooms
Beuys lets the medium take centre stage in this work. Made of five pieces of paper, it is titled after the distinctive brown oil paint the artist used, whose name translates as 'Brown cross'. Compared to his more delicate watercolour drawings of the 1950s, Beuys's Braunkreuz works are bold and have a sculptural aspect. The medium was named by the artist himself, whose love of language and word play is demonstrated in the name's composition, where two words compound to make a new word. This echoes the composition of the cross shape, where two elements intersect to form a third.

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.


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Medium/ media

The material from which an artwork is made, e.g. oil paint, bronze, paper. 'Medium' is also used for the liquid element of paint in which a colouring agent is carried. 'Mixed media' is used when an artist combines several different materials in an artwork.


A paint with colouring and binding agents diluted with water. It has a transparent quality and is usually applied to paper.

Braunkreuz, Composition, Medium/ media, Watercolour


  • Acc. No. AR00652
  • Medium 5 works on paper, oil paint
  • Size 70.00 x 100.00 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