Brief introduction of Joseph Beuys’ Lightning with stag in its glare

Brief introduction of Joseph Beuys’ Lightning with stag in its glare

As is known to as all that Joseph Beuys owned a divine status in 60s to 80s as Andy Warhol,

most of his works are uneasy to photograph or reappear. It becomes more and more important to experience and at least enter the space of artworks and feeling atmosphere in this period.


Tate Modern must feel lucky that this masterpiece doesn’t contain factors like fur or fat, these classic elements used by Beuys, which make artwork become hard to preserve. The material of this massive installation, Lightning with Stag in its Glare is mainly bronze and aluminum, casts a flimsy long black sculpture, hanging from a metal grinder from an iron bar, makes it actually looks like a moldy thin dark ham, with a number of piles of clay, in appearance really like feces, and other inorganic items uneasy to understand, some white wooden blocks, a small wheeled cart, and a hairy tripod, surrounding, occupies major room of the pure white exhibition hall, but flat and broken. It almost incompatibly exists, like thunder flashes, without any sign, shocking.


Just like the performance arts made by Beuys, the Lightning with Stag in its Glare also holds confusing and obscure symbols as usual. Besides, it comprises eternal vision of texture and form. This cold silent emotionless artwork, with a dynamic sense name, cannot find out direct trace of fresh animals, makes me suspect Beuys became a male character in the Tezuka Osamu’s famous comic Phoenix, who regards each organism as inorganic matter because of an accident and remaining brain sequela.


Bueys, he who was an art master with a shining personality and mysterious spirit, believed optimistically that since anyone has ability to create than all humans could be able to be artists. Meanwhile, he did confusing art creation and performance in both rebellious and obsession. However maybe it goes as his tender imagination, art should be accept but not be academic analyze. No matter audience to understand which represents ‘Lightning’, ‘Boothia Felix’, ‘Goat’, ‘Stag’, and ‘Primordial Animals’. What really important never shows up on individual object in his logic.


One more interesting coincidence, the time artist spent on this artwork (1958-85) dramatically as long as he married till his death (1959-1986).


Zuwei Yang