• 1974
  • Pencil drawing on page 5 of the book JOSEPH BEUYS – Zeichnungen I, 1947–1959
    Book 35.7 x 27.2 cm
  • Edition: 40 planned, approx. 25 made; signed, book numbered
  • Publisher: Württenbergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart
  • Catalogue Raisonné No.: 142A

A key motif in Beuys’s art, and the subject of this multiple, is the staff or walking stick, which he employed as a device for conducting energy. By placing a staff between a source of energy and a receiver, Beuys could use it to bring two poles into contact. By way of example, he remarked to Caroline Tisdall in conversation that ‘the walking stick or staff [could be viewed] as an image of the link between heaven and earth, spirit and matter.’1

Conversation, one of two drawings Beuys created for an exhibition catalogue of his drawings, explores this relationship. It consists of the near-empty contours of two interpenetrating objects: the head of an upside-down walking stick and a broken piece of stone. The resulting confusion of form suggests that the head of the stick has been plunged into the rock and, in this way, become ‘grounded’ within its confines. The stick’s body, meanwhile, rises up into the space above the rock, which can here be read as air or open space. For Beuys an image such as this was intended to evoke a flow of spiritual energy from the sky into the earth: As he also commented to Tisdall, ‘The bend in the staff is placed on the ground to emphasise the direction of the power that comes to the earth from above. Spirit and material…’.2

  1. ‘Joseph Beuys im Gespräch mit Caroline Tisdall, 1974,’ in The Secret Block for a Secret Person in Ireland (Tübingen: Kunsthalle Tübingen, 1988), 50. 

  2. Ibid., 48 

    Photo 1

    © Mario Gastinger, Photographics, Munich

    Katalog Museum Mönchengladbach 1967