Joseph Beuys Witches Spitting Fire 1959

Artwork details

Artist
Joseph Beuys 1921–1986
Title
Witches Spitting Fire
Hexen Feuer Speiend
Date 1959
Medium Graphite and oil paint on paper
Dimensions Support: 207 x 297 mm
Collection
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
AR00109
Not on display
ARTIST ROOMS

Online caption

Witches are often seen in German art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The interest in witches at that time was linked to the larger issue of society's attempt to understand women's bodies and their fertility, a subject which still concerns the artist in this 1959 drawing. Although these images from traditional German art would have been known to Beuys, his presentation of women as witches also refers to his own particular fascination with ancient and mysterious characters. Shown against a background suggestive of flames, Beuys's depiction of these two figures as fearsome and powerful shows his respect for a world where primitive, spiritual powers take precedent.

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