Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)


Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)
signed and dated 'BEUYS 1951' (on the underside)
bronze with a green/black patina
2.5 x 16.5 x 10.5 cm.
Cast in 1951, this piece is unique
A gift from the artist to the present owner.
Ex. cat. Suermondt-Ludwig Museum and Museumsverein Aachen, Kreuz + Zeichen, Religiöse Grundlagen im Werk von Joseph Beuys, Aachen 1985, p. 72 (other casts illustrated).
Ex. cat. Kaiser-Wilhelm Museum, TRANSIT Joseph Beuys. Plastische Arbeiten 1947-1985, Krefeld 1991, pp. 13, 128, 130-131 (other casts illustrated).
G. Adrinai (a.o.), Joseph Beuys, Cologne 1994, p. 32 (other casts illustrated).
Ex. cat. Schnüttgen Museum, Joseph Beuys und das Mittelalter, Cologne 1997, p. 127 (another cast illustrated).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Alexandra Bots
Alexandra Bots

Lot Essay

The Berglampe, 1951, is one of Joseph Beuys' earliest sculptures. The significance of this work within the artist's complex oeuvre is evident in the fact that it was used in various casts in several important ensembles and installations into the 1970s. Two other casts, for example, comprise the work 2 Berglampen 1 aus 2 an from 1953, which Beuys included in his application for professorship at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art in 1961 and is now part of the "Beuys Block" in the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt. Another cast is part of the ensemble, Untitled (Munitionskiste mit Fichtenstamm, Kreuz mit Sonne und Berglampe) in the collection of the Erzbischöfliches Diözesanmuseum in Cologne; and two are also included in the work Gundfana des Westens - Dschingis Khans Flagge (1961-1970) on loan to the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld.

The Berglampe is one of the most important works in a series of traditional religious motifs which came to an abrupt end in 1954, after Beuys became disillusioned with the idea of representing specifically Christian forms. The Christian element becomes transformed into a natural, universal and sometimes even cosmological element, with Christ representing a kind of primal energy. At the same time, Beuys also intensified his investigations of natural forms as bearers of mystical powers; in this, the influence of his teacher Ewald Mataré is clearly evident. Crystalline forms, perhaps inspired by Beuys' close friendship with Erwin Heerich, also begin to appear in his work more frequently. The Berglampe is characteristic of the new language of forms and motifs which developed out of this: 'Over the surface of a pentagram, a short, angular shaft raises up, above which a curious, relief-like element appears to hover. From a flat disk with octagonal contours, an angular dish emerges. In this stands a long, pointed form which is reminiscent both of a mineral as well as a rigid flame. This is surrounded by a broken, crystalline depression in the form of a pentagram. Numerous carved marks build a wreath of rays, which is only interrupted - and simultaneously intensified - by the lines of a circle. With this work, Beuys created a successful combination of archaic signs and natural forms; dish, flame, pentagram, sun-circle and crystal flow together into one form and open a multitude of mutually interwined levels of meaning and possible associations.' (S. Röder in: TRANSIT- Joseph Beuys. Plastiche Arbeiten 19471-1985, Krefeld 1991, p. 13).

For Beuys, the crystal was a symbol of order, and thus for the human intellect (as opposed to the chaos of intuition). The crystalline form is clearly defined and static; it is cold. In the case of the Berglampe, the combination of a crystal with a shallow bowl or dish surrounded by rays of light also refers to the legend of Percival and the Holy Grail. On the other hand, the crystalline form might also represent an eternal flame in a shallow dish of ethereal oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Like the Wurfkreuz, also executed in the early 1950s and including a dish with flame surrounded by the sun's rays, the Berglampe refers to the cosmological character of Christian motifs. Both works are closely related to the Kreuz mit Sonne (1947/1948), which is also included in the ensemble with the ammunitions crate. 'Because the sun brings light, it overcomes the powers of darkness and also death on a daily basis. As a donor of warmth, it influences the fertility of the earth and thus maintains life itself. (...) In the Celtic culture, it embodies the hope of reincarnation. Just as the sun is resurrected every morning, so too will man be resurrected.' (ibid, p. 10).

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