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Hermann Nitsch, action painting, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 300 cm © Hermann Nitsch Foundation

Hermann Nitsch


Portrait of Hermann Nitsch © Roland Rudolph


b. 1938, Vienna, Austria
d. 2022, Mistelbach, Austria

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Hermann Nitsch was known for his interdisciplinary practice that encompassed performance, painting, musical composition, and more.

Having trained at Vienna’s Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt in the 1950s, the artist became a pioneer of the city’s avant-garde scene in the 60s and 70s, staging radical and controversial performances as part of the Viennese Actionism movement. The artist’s work in performance and painting, which incorporated blood, flesh, and other materials, itself became a kind of religious practice. He conceived his famed Orgies Mysteries Theatre in the 50s, and the expansive, sensorial performance was realized as the 6-Day-Play. In the early years of his painting practice, Nitsch created Action paintings by splattering paint onto canvases, and some of his paintings from the 60s also feature fabric and blood.

Additionally, the artist created graphic prints that examine the labyrinthine makeup of the human body, which he described as “the architecture of the O.M. Theatre,” since the 70s. During the 90s, Nitsch began adding paint and blood splashes to his printing process, establishing a dialogue with his works on canvas. Over the course of his career, Nitsch exhibited work at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Leopold Museum, Vienna; the Albertina Museum, Vienna; and other institutions worldwide. His performances were staged internationally at venues in Vienna, New York, London, Havana, Leipzig, Hobart, and elsewhere.

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Hermann Nitsch, action painting, 1962, Emulsion paint on canvas, 106 x 80 cm © Hermann Nitsch Foundation

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Hermann Nitsch, action painting, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm © Hermann Nitsch Foundation

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Hermann Nitsch, 20th painting action, 18.2.1987, Secession, Vienna © Hermann Nitsch Foundation

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Hermann Nitsch, relic installation from the exhibition “arena. work out of the work – collection fondazione morra,” nitsch museum, Mistelbach, 2014–2015, Photographer: Manfred Thumberger © Hermann Nitsch Foundation

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Hermann Nitsch, action painting (Triptych), 2003, Acrylic on burlap, 300 x 600 cm © Hermann Nitsch Foundation

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Hermann Nitsch, action painting from the 32nd painting action, Prinzendorf castle, July – August 1992, 270 x 1200 cm, oil and blood on canvas, 1992 © Hermann Nitsch Foundation