The work by Hermann Nitsch (*1938 in Vienna) goes far beyond the medium of painting: it reveals itself as a dynamic Gesamtkunstwerk of painting, theatre, music and poetry, in which mythology, religion and philosophy merge into one Dionysian entity. For over 50 years, he has been writing art history with his actions, works and performances. Together with Günter Brus, Otto Mühl and Rudolf Schwarzkogler, he founded Viennese Actionism in the 1960s and pushed the boundaries of painting by using real bodies, objects and substances in space and time as artistic mediums. His impressive productions contributed to the early years of the Happening- and Performance Art movements.
The exhibition Mysterien-Malerei includes works from the past ten years. In this exhibition, Nitsch’s signature works ‚Schüttbilder‘, where the artist pours paint on the canvas and works on it with his hands, are shown alongside drawings, printed graphics and other works on paper. Nitsch’s informal painting shows a resemblance to Action Painting and Tachism. Due to the spontaneity of the painting action, his art embodies the unconscious and untamed and can be understood as an intense momentary experience. As in his performances, his paintings manifest a ritual of unconditional devotion and absolute dedication to life itself.
The works of Hermann Nitsch are represented in important collections around the world, e.g. at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Collection, New York; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Tate Gallery, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; National Gallery, Berlin; Lenbachhaus, Munich; Mumok, Vienna, as well as in two monographic museums in Mistelbach (AUT) and Naples (IT) and at the Nitsch Foundation in Vienna.
Additionally, Nitsch can be credited as having shaped the opera and theatre landscapes in German-speaking countries. He has designed several sets for the Vienna State Opera and his Orgien Mysterien Theater was performed in the Vienna Burgtheatre. Directors such as Christoph Schlingensief have been as much influenced by Hermann Nitsch as the artist Marina Abramovic. Nitsch lives and works at his castle in Prinzendorf an der Zaya, Lower Austria, that is a major venue for the annual performance of the Orgien Mysterien Theater games.