This room brings together works by the German artist Joseph Beuys from the early 1980’s, including the installation Lightning with Stag in its Glare.
One of the most important German artists of the twentieth century, Beuys was known for performances and sculptural installations that explored myth, politics and man’s relationship to the natural world. He saw creativity as central to human existence, and his art was rooted in processes of change and transformation. His sculptures were often based on found objects which he invested with symbolic associations derived from science, anthropology and his own life.
Many of the works shown here were part of an exhibition called Zeitgeist held in 1982 at the Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin. In a section entitled ‘Workshop’ Beuys installed a huge mound of clay – a raw material formed from the earth – and surrounded it with sculptures as well as furniture, tools and other items taken from his studio.
After the exhibition, Beuys made casts of some of the elements to create Lightning with Stag in its Glare. In this installation, his animal sculptures – composed from the ramshackle detritus of industrial civilization – are endowed with mythic significance. The bolt of lightning itself was a bronze cast from a section of the clay mound, while the stag was cast in aluminium as if illuminated by a sudden flash of light. Maggot-like primordial creatures were fashioned by embedding tools such as spanners and screwdrivers in scoops of clay. Made towards the end of the artist’s life, the installation addresses themes of finality and death, but also ideas of regeneration through the transformative power of natural energies.
Image: Joseph Beuys, Monument to the Stag (1958 - 1985)
© DACS 2009