Joseph Beuys

Pregnant Woman with Swan

1959

Artist
Joseph Beuys 1921–1986
Original title
Schwangere und Schwan
Medium
Oil paint and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 276 x 214 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
AR00114

On loan to: Leeds Art Gallery (Leeds, UK)

Exhibition: ARTIST ROOMS 2017: Joseph Beuys

Online caption

The tiny swan in this painting looks as if it is swimming serenely inside the woman, replacing the foetus inside her pregnant body. The drawing combines male and female elements, with the phallic nature of the swan's neck. Beuys had been fascinated with swans since childhood. A sculpture of a large golden swan sat on top of the tower of Schwanenburg castle (Swan Castle) in his home town of Cleves, and was visible from his bedroom window while he was growing up. With his interest in language, the artist would also have delighted in the similarity between the German words for pregnant woman (Schwangere) and swan (Schwan).

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