Joseph Beuys - BEUYS 100 London Monday, June 14, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Named after a homeopathic salve Beuys often used himself, Cuprum 0.3% unguentum metallicum praeparatum consists of a rectangular block of wax, containing finely distributed copper, and bears an impression in negative relief of the crystalline form of a miner’s lamp. Forming a sculpture that symbolized its meaning, the edition was originally intended to be published alongside a book about Beuys and medicine in 1979 entitled Joseph Beuys und die Medizin. Beuys started sketching for the sculpture in 1976 but experiments with different types of wax delayed completion of the first example until 1978. It was not until 1986, however, that casting was completed by a founder independent of the book publisher, and the edition finally finished after Beuys’ death.


    Constructing a multiplicity of meaning and potential associations, the title of the work alludes to its literal and metaphoric themes of healing. The ‘image’ of archaic signs and naturally occurring forms – the bowl, flame, pentagram, sun disc, and crystal – converge into the single shape of the minor’s lamp. Commonly symbolizing ‘lighting the way’ and combatting the forces of darkness, the combination of materials and image represents the human struggle with illness. Like its namesake ointment, Beuys included copper within the wax formula for this work, the conductive element allowing the warmth in the wax necessary to form it’s shape. As bees wax is associated with natural healing remedies, so copper is associated with the feminine, and the feminine with the role of the carer. The materials used thus not only present a medium for sculpting but reflect the concepts behind the project as well.

    • Provenance

      Jörg Schellmann, Munich
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Munich, Galerie Schellmann, Joseph Beuys - mit Braunkreuz und Hasenblut, July - October 1986 (another example exhibited)
      Seoul, Kukje Gallery, Joseph Beuys - Sculptures, Vitrines, Objects, Drawings, 24 October - 19 November 1996, no. 9 (another example exhibited)

    • Literature

      Jörg Schellmann 556
      Jörg Schellmann, ed., Forty Are Better Than One, Munich/New York, 2009, p. 44


Cuprum 0.3% unguentum metallicum praeparatum (S. 556)

Cast beeswax multiple with finely distributed copper.
19.8 x 10.8 x 10.5 cm (7 3/4 x 4 1/4 x 4 1/8 in.)
Incised 'Joseph Beuys 6/18' on the right side, signed by Wenzel Beuys (Executor of the Estate of Joseph Beuys) and numbered 6/18 in black ink on the accompanying Certificate of Authenticity with the Beuys Estate stamp (there were also 5 artist's proofs), co-published by Edition Schellmann, Munich and New York, and Galerie Bernd Klüser, Munich.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 20,000 ♠†

Sold for £18,900

Contact Specialist

Anne Schneider-Wilson

Senior Specialist, Editions

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Rebecca Tooby-Desmond

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T +44 207 318 4079

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Robert Kennan

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T +44 207 318 4075

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London Auction 14 June 2021