- Joseph Beuys 1921–1986
- Original title
- Graphite on paper
- Support: 429 x 395 mm
frame: 674 x 541 x 28 mm
- ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland
- 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
Although the imagery of this drawing is difficult to decipher, the stag is an animal which held a particular mystical power for Beuys. The artist would refer to himself as the 'stag leader'. With his work steeped in Germanic tradition and legend, Beuys's use of the stag references the animal as the traditional emblem of the Northern forest, as well as its role as a spirit guide in Celtic mythology and the crucified Christ in Christianity. The stag is a symbol of masculine power, but also has a feminine aspect in the annual shedding of its antlers, symbolising fertility.