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Beuys, Joseph - SaFG SaUG

Identifier

021071

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

We Won’t Do It without the Rose, Because We Can No Longer Think 1972

A description of the experience

The Artistic Alchemy of Joseph Beuys – Dr David Adams

Beuys’ "Theory of Sculpture," which was worked out during the 1950s, largely in connection with his fundamental bronze and iron relief sculpture SaFG SaUG (Sunrise-Sunset) begun in 1953 but first exhibited in 1964, was based on a fundamental complex of polarities: "The theory is based on the passage from chaotic material to ordered form through sculptural movement:

  • chaos
  • undetermined
  • organic
  • warm
  • expansion
  • movement
  • order
  • determined
  • crystalline
  • cold
  • contraction

... Really it is the same element repeated in the two different states of contraction and expansion principles essential to sculpture."

Beuys's theory of sculpture was one expression of his wish to develop an approach to visual art based upon the fundamental processes underlying the formation of matter and form in the world that appears to our senses. His next task was to find substances that could be used to express the principles of this theory as directly as possible. His SaFC SaUG sculpture had combined bronze and iron because of the expressive polarity of copper and iron, two materials he often used together thereafter. For a number of reasons-many of which Beuys could have learned about through anthroposophy-copper represented a flexible, more feminine quality characterized by ready conductivity of heat and electricity, high resonance and lustre, and an enlivening effect on fluids. Among metals, iron represented the opposite pole, with its hard, masculine, earth-bound nature. Both the ancients and Steiner associated copper with Venus and iron with Mars.

Beuys, however, looked for a single substance that could express directly both the polar extremes and the artistic movement between them. Because he felt the institutions and mentality of modern society tended too far toward the cold, ordered, determined pole of this theory he wanted to emphasize the opposite pole in his artwork. In particular, he spoke of developing "warmth sculptures," and he looked for materials that were sensitive to warmth. We should recall here Steiner's description of warmth as the border state between the material and spiritual worlds, the closest to the physical world of four types of supersensible "etheric life forces" (and distinguishable from the purely material "heat"). Beuys also was attracted to warmth as a fundamental characteristic of the human being, particularly the warmth of will and feeling he felt was needed to balance the coldness of the rational intellect that had become so one-sidedly dominant in western civilization. Underlying this interest was also Steiner's depiction of the warmth carried in our blood circulation as the physical basis for the human itself.

 

The source of the experience

Beuys, Joseph

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Suppressions

Believing in the spiritual world
LOVE

Commonsteps

References