Joseph Beuys, Springender Wolf, fallende Bombe, 1959
© VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021, Foto: Jörg von Bruchhausen

Online Archive Joseph Beuys

175 drawings by Joseph Beuys: Aeneas Bastian collection on long term loan to the Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

[Translate to English:] Zeichnungen von Joseph Beuys in der Sammlung Aeneas Bastian

In 2020, the Dresden Kupferstich-Kabinett received of one of the largest and most important privately own groups of drawings by Joseph Beuys with the long term loan of 175 Beuys paper works from the Aeneas Bastian collection. Assembled in direct proximity to the artist – Aeneas Bastian’s father Heiner was Beuys’s longtime secretary and confidant – the collection not only represents a superb oeuvre of 20th-century graphic art, but it also witnesses the close bond between the artist and the family Bastian.

This group of drawings is unique in its size and its quality. The works derive from the entirety of Beuys’s active period. The earliest sheet was created in 1945, the last just over a year before Beuys’s death in 1986. The Kupferstich-Kabinett plans to present the Aeneas Bastian collection in the next years from many perspectives, making it accessible in different analogue and digital formats. All of the works and the results of research on them will be documented and made available in an online archive.

Leaping Wolf Falling Bomb

The leaping wolf and the falling bomb can hardly be identified; instead, they resemble each other in their form and gray-green color, which one could associate as much with fur as with the military. Beuys’s focus is on the dynamic movement up and down, which he represents as a trajectory. As one of Beuys’s artistic leitmotifs, transition can be understood as the mutability of things. The wolf transforms itself into a bomb while the specific differences are blurred between organic and inorganic, between living and dead or deadly, so that at the center of the work stands the enriched energy of the symbolic and elemental forces wolf and bomb, shortly before their release becomes comprehensible.

© VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021, Foto: Jörg von Bruchhausen
Joseph Beuys, Leaping Wolf Falling Bomb, 1959 Two sheets, Oilpaint and watercolor, DLN Bastian 59.08

Room with Felt Sculptures

The donation of an important drawing from the Aeneas Bastian collection to the Kupferstich-Kabinett marks the beginning of the cooperation between the Bastian family and the SKD. The sheet Room with Felt Sculptures is an exemplary demonstration of the artistic importance of drawings in the artist’s oeuvre. It was created in a decisive phase of his work, when Beuys was teaching at the academy in Düsseldorf, performing the first Fluxus actions, and had expanded his artistic work to felt, fat and wax. The drawing stages a spatial situation that seems to create an energetic field of tension between surfaces and lines, calm and movement. The work is an autonomous expression of artistic exploration, which is able to develop sculptural power in a small format.

© VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021, Foto: Jörg von Bruchhausen
Joseph Beuys, Room with Felt Sculptures, 1963 Oil on paper, 2020 donation Dr. Aeneas Bastian, SKD, Kupferstich-Kabinett, Inv.-No. C 2020-45

North - Early Morning Departure

Nine Drawings for a Theory of Sculpture I-IX. Conversation with Heiner Bastian

The drawings, in which Beuys developed his theoretical notions in graphic images, constitute an independent group within his oeuvre. These nine sheets were created during a conversation with Heiner Bastian about the “Theory of Sculpture” on January 31, 1971. Beuys sought forms of representation for the correlations between concepts like “form” and “thought” or “spirit” and “material” within the drawing process. The diagrams were intended to elucidate and visualize arguments in the conversation. They make it clear that Beuys understood graphic and verbal formulations as a common, interdependent intellectual process. Nevertheless, the marks are not immediately comprehensible to everyone. They are the expression of an intensive mental effort that found its first crystallization here. The conversation between Beuys and Bastian took place at the beginning of a long-term, mutually inspirational friendship. The draughtsman and the poet had known each other just three years at this point.

© VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021, Foto: Jörg von Bruchhausen
Joseph Beuys, Nine Drawings for a Theory of Sculpture I-IX. Conversation with Heiner Bastian, 1971 Pencil on paper, DLN Bastian 71.02

[Translate to English:] Slider

Wax Sculpture

This barely discernable representation is rendered on paper with a ballpoint pen and a ferrous substance. Clearly delineated lines alternate with the blurry edges of the watery medium; contingency and order are juxtaposed. It is unclear how Beuys began the drawing process – whether he was reacting to the ink with the ballpoint pen or to the ballpoint pen with the ink. The title is invested with a connection to Beuys’s “Theory of Sculpture.” It goes back to the belief that all material has a “Wärmecharakter” (a character defined by warmth) and is moved through the exchange of energy, thereby creating a balance of powers. This process is essentially procedural and communicative, which Beuys linked to the idea of sculpture.

© VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021, Foto: Jörg von Bruchhausen
Joseph Beuys, Wax Sculpture, 1952 Iron chloride and ballpoint pen on paper, DLN Bastian 52.01
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