Hermann Nitsch

  • Born 1938 in Vienna, Austria
  • Died 1938

Hermann Nitsch is known for his experimental and multimedia art. He graduated from the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt (Experimental Graphic Institute of Vienna), but turned to painting in the 1950s. He was a member of the Wiener Aktionismus (Viennese actionist movement) with Otto Muehl (b. 1925), Günter Brus (b. 1938), and Rudolf Schwarzkogler (1940–1969). In 1957 Nitsch invented the Orgien Mysterien Theater (Orgiastic Mystery Theater), based on the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or comprehensive artwork. The Orgien Mysterien Theater is a six-day festival featuring a variety of art forms and rituals, both religious and pagan. The staging aims at liberating the spectator’s religious, moral, and sexual inhibitions by engaging all senses. Nitsch’s controversial performance pieces have involved blood, dead animals, and passive human actors. His splatter paintings (Schüttbilder) mingle paint and blood on rough burlap canvases. In 1971 Nitsch acquired a castle in Prindendorf, near Vienna, as the main venue for his Orgien Mysterien Theater. In 1974 he met the gallery owner and publisher Peppe Morra, who became his agent, arranging his performances and publishing his theoretical works. In 2007, Nitsch opened the Hermann Nitsch Museum in Mistelbach, Austria. His work has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and Europe.

Artworks by Hermann Nitsch in the exhibition