Hermann Nitsch

Hermann Nitsch, Viennese Actionist and founder of the Theater of Orgies and Mysteries, was recently featured in the book Blood Orgies: Hermann Nitsch in America.  I got to take a look at the book and watch some videos of his performances and became really excited about his work. These videos were posted by Incubate, a showcase of independant artists and performers in Tilburg, Holland, and show an “action” from 1982. I strongly recommend viewing these full-screen.  This passage from the Saatchi Gallery website gives a good, concise summary of Hermann Nitsch’s work:

Hailed by many as the Pope of Viennese ‘Aktionism’, Hermann Nitsch, 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 was celebrated and reviled in equal measure as he took the semblance of a pagan ceremony and incorporated robed processions, symbolic crucifixion, drunken excess, nudity, animal sacrifice, the drinking of blood, and the ritualistic incorporation of viscera and entrails. Even today, his audiences aren’t mere visitors, but active participants in his artistic liturgies.

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