Joseph Beuys

Crystal Measurement

1954

Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 276 x 305 mm
Acquisition
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
Reference
AR00632

Online caption

This work is particularly striking for its bold use of colour. Beuys often worked with natural or neutral-coloured materials and tended to use colour sparingly and deliberately. Early in his life, Beuys's parents had hoped that he would pursue a career in the natural sciences and although he chose art instead, science remained a lifelong interest. In 1949 he made a wooden model of a crystal, fascinated by its 'mathematical and platonic orders'. He continued to use the 'crystalline principle' as a symbol of reason, which, if not tempered by the warmth of intuition and emotion, would remain cold and lifeless.