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Nitsch, Hermann

Hermann Nitsch Schüttbild 2007


1938 Vienna - 2022 Mistelbach/Lower Austria

Splatter Painting
verso “hermann nitsch 07”, verso archive number “K-SHEILA-07”
acrylic on canvas
39¼×31½ in

illustrated in: Hermann Nitsch. Retrospettiva (exhibition cat. Marina di Ravenna, July 7 – Aug. 30, 2007), Ravenna 2007, p. 56.

The splatter painting is an icon of contemporary Austrian art. A captured moment, an instant immortalized in color and created by chance, by space and time and the artist – Hermann Nitsch – acting in and through this universe.

A meditative process in which not only the painter, but also the painting, is the protagonist, as is the color itself, through which nature and the physical laws act. Instinct, the unconscious, is no longer suppressed, but celebrated in the form of intuitive gestures as an expression of the life force.

Hermann Nitsch is a co-founder of Viennese Actionism, an influential current of the international post-avant-garde of the 1960s. The goal of this group of artists, which in addition to Nitsch included Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, Adolf Frohner, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler, was to use the means of the so-called ‘happening’ to go beyond the boundaries of the canvas and to explode the classical concept of art and its genres. Through the use of the impulsively acting body in the sense of body art, reality and actual life become manifest on the canvas and becomes art.

Hermann Nitsch, 1938-2022, trained at “die Graphische“ in Vienna from 1948 to 1956, and after receiving his diploma he devoted himself primarily to painting. As early as 1960, he created the first splatter paintings and in the following years developed the scandalous ”Orgien.Mysterien.Theater“ (”Theater of Orgies and Mysteries“) – an actionist life’s work consisting of performance, painting, music and scenic presentation.

Today one of the most important international representatives of Austrian contemporary art, the exceptional artist Hermann Nitsch was subjected to fierce criticism, numerous social repressions and even prison sentences in the first decades of his work. Only gradually did this pioneering artist receive the public recognition he deserved. Hermann Nitsch‘s works can be found in the most important modern museums in Austria as well as in major international collections such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and MoMA, the Tate Gallery, London, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich.