The World of Art at the UN in Vienna

    Hermann Nitsch

    Hermann Nitsch

    Hermann Nitsch (born 1938) is an Austrian artist who works in experimental and multimedia modes.

    Nitsch is called an "actionist" or a performance artist. He is associated with the Vienna Actionists and conceives his art outside traditional categories of genre. Nitsch's abstract splatter paintings, like his performance pieces, established a theme of controlled violence, using bright reds, maroons, and pale greys that communicate organic mutilation.

    In the 1950s, Nitsch conceived of the OM Theater or Orgien Mysterien Theater (which roughly translates as "Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries"), staging nearly 100 performances between 1962 and 1998.

    Nitsch's work, which can be considered both ritualistic and existential, first drew attention in the early 1960s when he exhibited a skinned and mutilated lamb. The lamb was crucified against a white fabric-covered wall, with the entrails removed and displayed below a white table, splashed with blood and hot water. This was accompanied by Nitsch's "Geräuschmusik" (roughly translated 'noise music'). Nitsch's subsequent work has incorporated many similar elements, often combining slaughtered animals, red fruits, music, dancing, and active participants. Nitsch juxtaposed slaughtered animal intestines with quasi-religious icons such as staged crucifixions, satirizing and questioning the moral ethics of atavistic religion and sacrifice. Currently his work is often discussed in the context of our culture's fixation with violence seen on the news, movie screens, and in popular video games.

    Hermann Nitsch has been repeatedly charged, tried, and even condemned to prison.

    By 1995 Nitsch had been so sufficiently embraced by the establishment, that the Vienna State Opera invited him to direct and design the sets and costumes for Jules Massenet's opera Hérodiade.

    In 1998, Nitsch staged his 100th performance (named 'The 6-Day Play' after its length) which took place at his castle in Lower Austria, Schloss Prinzendorf.

    Nitsch continues to publish articles and release CDs.


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