Joseph Beuys

The Shaman’s Two Bags

1977

Artist
Joseph Beuys 1921–1986
Medium
Graphite, crayon and ink on paper
Dimensions
Support (left): 760 x 564 mm
support (right): 745 x 559 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
AR00129

Not on display

Online caption

The presence of the shaman is felt in this drawing, not through the man himself being shown but by his belongings being featured. Beuys felt a deep connection with the figure of the shaman, who appears in tribal cultures across the world. The shape of the bag on the left looks as if a pair of antlers is growing from the top, recalling the artist's fascination with the stag. The hook shape at the side looks like the top of the staff used by a shepherd or shaman. On the bag on the right, a shape like a tuning fork or divining stick emerges from the side of the bag.