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

Hermann Nitsch

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Portrait of Hermann Nitsch © Roland Rudolph

Details:

b. 1938, Vienna
d. 2022

Hermann Nitsch is known for his interdisciplinary practice that encompasses 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 1960s and 1970s, staging radical and controversial performances as part of the Viennese Actionism movement. The artist’s work in performance and painting, which has incorporated blood, flesh, and other materials, has itself become a kind of religious practice. He conceived his famed Orgies Mysteries Theatre in the 1950s, and the expansive, sensorial performance has since been 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 1960s also feature fabric and blood.

Additionally, the artist has been creating graphic prints that examine the labyrinthine makeup of the human body, which he has described as “the architecture of the O.M. Theatre,” since the 1970s. During the 1990s, 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 has 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 have also been staged internationally at venues in Vienna, New York, London, Havana, Leipzig, Hobart, and elsewhere. Nitsch lives and works at Prinzendorf Castle on the Zaya River in Lower Austria and in Asolo, Italy.

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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