Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)
signed, titled and dated 'Joseph Beuys Nordpol 1956' (on the backing)
oil, gouache and pencil on paper collage on paper
29.5 x 21cm.
Executed in 1956
Hans and Frans Joseph van der Grinten, Kranenburg.
Galerie Thomas, Munich.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1974.
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.
Please note this lot is the property of a consumer. See H1 of the Conditions of Sale.
Brought to you by

Lot Essay

‘Drawing is the first visible form in my works … the first visible thing of the form of the thought, the changing point from the invisible powers to the visible thing’ – Joseph Beuys

Executed in 1956, Nordpol (North Pole) is an early drawing by Joseph Beuys. While recovering from the trauma of the Second World War – during which his plane was shot down on the Crimean Front – the artist poured his energies into drawing during the 1950s, exploring ideas and imagery that would set the tone for the rest of his practice. Pursued obsessively as an intrinsic part of his daily life, the act of drawing came to form the crucible of his output, and was later acknowledged by the artist as the fundamental catalyst for his entire oeuvre. The van der Grinten brothers, whose gallery originally handled the present work, were among the earliest patrons of Beuys’ drawings, and offered him a place to stay on their farm after he suffered an emotional and physical breakdown in 1957. This period is widely considered a key moment in his artistic development, sparking a process of deep thought, theorisation and ‘preparation’ – as he put it – that would pave the way for his involvement with the Fluxus group in the early 1960s.
The present work’s subject is one that Beuys would reference at various points throughout his oeuvre. The transition between opposing states – warmth and cold, solidity and fluidity, chaos and form – was a dynamic that would come to characterise much of his work, and was arguably embodied in the notion of earth’s magnetic poles. For an artist who drew widely upon science, shamanism, German Romanticism, anthropology and spiritual philosophies, moreover, the mysteries of the vast frozen landscape and its inhabitants offered a pertinent source of inspiration. Here, surrounded by a dark void, the forms of arctic creatures quiver in two vignettes below a bright splash of white, perhaps evocative of the North Star.

Related Articles

Sorry, we are unable to display this content. Please check your connection.

More from
The Curator's Eye: The Collection of Professor Dr Karin von Maur
Place your bid Condition report

A Christie's specialist may contact you to discuss this lot or to notify you if the condition changes prior to the sale.

I confirm that I have read this Important Notice regarding Condition Reports and agree to its terms. View Condition Report