Joseph Beuys

Australische Saatgut (Australian Seeds)


Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale

2 March 2022

Lot 331

Joseph Beuys is one of the more enigmatic and at times indecipherable artists of the post-war era. One approach to understanding his work is to consider the role of shaman or healer in traditional societies. The shaman can be seen as a conduit between people and objects in the physical world and the spiritual or transcendent realm where ordinary language fails. Through certain types of performance, repetition, or demonstration, the skilled shaman may influence events, perhaps healing or contributing to the wholistic prosperity of an environment or social network.

Australische Saatgut is a work on paper consisting of a triangular arrangement of seeds encompassed by a field of reddish brown ink. Seeds are a common symbol of life and renewal while the ink may represent soil. The additional requirements for germination are typically sunlight, atmosphere and water however in Australia, some native species require the material change which occurs after fire has swept across country. Beuys incorporates these elements with the importance of seeds in medicine and healing for indigenous Australians. The wider picture is one where a modern society exists precariously on a stolen continent. Perhaps it requires an outsider to portray this so intuitively, almost beyond words. Auction estimate (GBP 3,000 - GBP 5,000).

Price realised at auction GBP 2,520.

Seraphine Pick    Untitled

27 February 2022