Joseph Beuys

Young Blacksmith with his Work

1971

Artist
Joseph Beuys 1921–1986
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 214 x 268 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
AR00681

Not on display

Online caption

The figure in this drawing wears the same trilby hat as the artist, showing that Beuys is casting himself as the blacksmith, with the power to work metal, changing its form from solid to liquid using fire. The figure of the blacksmith had been of interest to Beuys since his childhood. At the age of eight he had played games based on the legend of Genghis Khan, and later explained that a rough translation of Genghis Khan was 'John Smith', meaning he would have been a blacksmith. In this role, working with fire to create tools and objects from metal, Beuys compared Khan to a shaman, another figure who appears in the artist's work.

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