Hailed by many as one of the important deciding Founder of Viennese „Aktionism„, Hermann Nitsch (born 1938 in Vienna), together with Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, and Rudolf Schwartzkogler, reformed the face of sixties art, shunning the illusionary confines of traditional painting and sculpture, reinventing an art that exists in real, corporeal, and violent terms.
Hermann Nitsch developed the Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries (O.M.Theatre) in the mid-1950s. The O.M.Theatre is a „basic experience of excess and a celebration of resurrection, a sadomasochist excess and catharsis, a brutal dismemberment and a harmonising synthesis, an incantation of the myth as a contracted world view and psychoanalytical therapy.“ With more than 100 performances to date, these staged Dionysian performances are replete with religious sacrifices, mock crucifixion, blood, entrails, robes, dance and nude participants.
In the 1950s, Hermann Nitsch attended the Academy of Graphic Art in Vienna, finishing with a diploma in 1957. During this time the artist acquired the skills which are considered the basis of his extensive and complex graphic work. Since the 1980s, Hermann Nitsch has been working in the graphics field and created an extensive oeuvre. Architectural drawings form the basis for the prints; it is the starting point and motif for the majority of the published prints. From 1984 to 1991, he produced the project “Die Architektur des Orgien Mysterien Theaters”; this collection, consisting of four folders with direct lithographs of over 3,300 individual prints, is the centrepiece of his graphic work. The latest monumental work in the field of graphics is the large-format, Hebrew-German art book LEVITIKUS, which Hermann Nitsch published in collaboration with Har-El Publishers (16 copies). It refers to the third book of Moses, which describes the sacrificial rituals in the Temple of Jerusalem. The work is accompanied by twelve terragraphs (screen prints with sand), with a surface structure similar to that of the splatter paintings.
His Action painting, the excessive splashing of paint on vertical and horizontal canvases, is based on tachism as conditional on shaping and expressing the unconscious in a sensually stimulated production process. His paintings record the corporeal existence of its contributors on their lush surfaces – the hysterical shuffle of dance, a smear, a bloody mark. The paintings are beautiful abstractions symbolizing what it means to be human.
Since 1963, instead of painting, which apparently culminated in the O.M.Theatre, the RELICS of the “Aktionen” are transformed into artistic objects. The fabrics and clothes, marked by the processes of the “Aktion”, stained and besmeared, are considered authentic documentation of the events; they preserve the actions and their traces and retain their relevance over time Hermann Nitsch lives and works at Prinzendorf Castle on the Zaya River, Lower Austria. His works are exhibited in the two Nitsch Museums in Mistelbach and Naples as well as in the Nitsch Foundation in Vienna and can be found in the permanent collections of preeminent international museums and galleries, including: MoMA, Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum New York, Tate Gallery London, The Centre Pompidou Paris, Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich and many more.
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