Considered a key figure in Viennese
Action Painting of the 1960s, Hermann Nitsch
continues to use this radical method of painting, essentially through his creation of the
Orgien Mysterien Theater, a concept of ceremonial
performance art comparable to Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk (total art work). This total art form
calls to all five human senses and advocates for a profound existentialist reflection.
Hermann Nitsch creates his paintings using his entire body. Therefore, they are
simultaneously the origin and the result of his performances. Combining oil and acrylic
paint of a certain hue, he spreads it on canvas using unconventional tools as well as his
hands, feet and whole body movements. Through these actions, Nitsch demonstrates his
energetic, spiritual, sensual and passionate persona. Chaos and violence, which accompany
his work, are in fact a celebration of life and mirror the human soul.
2012 acrylic on canvas, 200 x 300 cm (78.7 x 118.1
Nitsch’s canvases capture the essence of his performative spirit and his
undying fascination for the corporeal. He said: ‘Red is the colour that most intensively arouses
attention because it is simultaneously the colour of both life and death.’
Nitsch’s expressive use of paint transforms a blank page into a
action: each canvas captures and reveals an individual and spontaneous instance.
"I never was interested to make provocation. I want to show intensity. And
let’s say, maybe in intensity is a kind of provocation, but for me [it] always is important to
life and to celebrate life."
K_05_20 2020 acrylic
on canvas, 100 x 80 cm (39.4 x 31.5 in)
Born in Vienna, Austria in 1938, Hermann Nitsch studied graphics at
Institute of Graphic Arts in his hometown. As a painter, performer, composer photographer and
scenographer, he is one of the most influential artists of his generation. He currently lives
works at the Prinzendorf castle in Austria.
His artworks are permanently exhibited in the two Nitsch Museums located in Mistelbach, Austria
Naples, Italy as well as in the Nitsch Foundation in Vienna. His paintings are displayed in many
major art galleries and museums inthe world and are included in the permanent collections of the
MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in the Centre Georges
Pompidou, Paris, in the Tate Gallery, London and in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam as well as
the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, just to name a few.
Nitsch’s paintings focus on the physical handling of color, the expressive
gesture, the actionist application of paint, and the bodily acting out.
"Art is celebration of being. Art is a special kind of life. What kind of
is making lukewarm art? I will not make lukewarm art. I want to make anything art. I want to
art, which is so important—like the stars, the sun systems. I want to make art, which is so
important, like being."
HF_35_19 2019 acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm (59.1 x 78.7 in)