Joseph Beuys

Acer platanoides


Leaf on paper
Support: 474 x 317 mm
ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008

Online caption

The natural sciences were one of Beuys's great interests from an early age. As a child he collected and catalogued biological specimens and made a small laboratory in his house. His study was aided by a copy of Carl Linnaeus's book of classification for the natural world, 'Systema Naturae', which Beuys was able to save from a Nazi book burning at his school library. This is the earliest work by Beuys in the ARTIST ROOMS collection, made when the artist was twenty-four years old. The leaf is from a Norway maple tree, a species native to central and eastern Europe.