Joseph Beuys: 40 Years of Drawing

Joseph Beuys, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Presenting almost 100 works on paper from the Joseph Beuys family for the first time in the UK, Joseph Beuys: 40 Years of Drawing is the first major exhibition dedicated solely to the artist’s drawings to take place in London for 30 years. The drawings on view span the four decades of Beuys’s creative output; from the early representational works of the 1940s and 1950s to the conceptual sketches created from the mid-1960s that reflect the radical shift in his practice when drawings became integral devices related to the performances and sculptures he produced in the 1970s and 1980s.

Crucially, Beuys did not conceive of his works on paper as studies or preparatory material for projects in other mediums. Instead, he experienced the physical act of drawing as the primary means through which to crystallise his conceptual thinking.

Carving out his place at the forefront of post-war art, Beuys understood drawing to underpin all aspects of his multifaceted practice, encompassing his work as a sculptor, pioneering performance artist, theorist, teacher, environmentalist and political activist. He experimented with drawing, collage and watercolour to give physical form to his ideas. At the time of the foundational 1993 exhibition dedicated to the artist’s drawings at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, co-curator Ann Temkin recounted, ‘Beuys has been described by those who knew him as constantly drawing; he drew while travelling while watching TV, while in private discussion, while in performance. Beuys’s attitude towards drawing implied it to be as intrinsic to him as breathing.’

Executed in diverse mediums – including pencil, watercolour, collaged organic matter and the artist’s signature rust-brown pigment, Braunkreuz – the group of drawings presented in the exhibition exemplifies Beuys’s employment of nontraditional materials in his artmaking.

Duration 19 January 2023 - 22 March 2023
Times Tuesday—Saturday, 10am—6pm
Cost Free
Venue Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Address Ely House, 37 Dover Street, London, W1S 4NJ
Contact 4402038138400 / /