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Schmela 1966

On Display Modern Two

  • Artist Rooms
The title of the work refers to Alfred Schmela, the German artist and owner of Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf. Schmela was a promoter of avant garde art and an early supporter of Beuys. Beuys first met Schmela in 1958, and was introduced to Yves Klein by the gallerist. He performed some of his 'actions' at Galerie Schmela, including the infamous 1965 performance 'How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare'. This painting in Braunkreuz oil looks to be of a figure at the edge of a cliff, perhaps suggesting Schmela's risky role as pioneer of new and cutting-edge art.

Glossary Open

Avant garde

Cultural practices that challenge tradition through experimentation and innovation. Originally a military term, in art it is particularly associated with the late 19th and 20th centuries.


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.

Avant garde, Braunkreuz


  • Acc. No. AR00676
  • Medium Oil paint on paper
  • Size 40.00 x 56.40 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