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Sostanza Plastica
© DACS 2015

Reference URL

Sostanza Plastica 1965

On Display Modern Two

  • Artist Rooms
The title of this work means 'Plastic Substance' in Italian. Although German by birth, Beuys's use of words from different languages (often English) in his work shows the artist's pan-european perspective, and his love of language. The familiar medium of Braunkreuz oil paint is central to this painting. Taken nearly to the edges of the page, the uneven edges and patchy areas of the paint recall the medium's origins as a cheap domestic paint used for houses in rural areas.

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.

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.

Braunkreuz, Medium/ media


  • Acc. No. AR00667
  • Medium Oil paint on paper
  • Size 60.80 x 52.70 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