Hermann Nitsch

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Hermann Nitsch
Hermann Nitsch am 28. März 2012 bei der Präsentation seines Weines im Gmoakeller (Wien).jpg
Hermann Nitsch, 2012
Born (1938-08-29) August 29, 1938 (age 77)
Nationality Austrian
Education Wiener Graphische Lehr-und Versuchanstalt
Known for Performance art
Notable work Orgien Mysterien Theater
Movement Vienna Actionists
Website [1]

Hermann Nitsch (born 29 August 1938) is an Austrian artist who works in experimental and multimedia modes.

Born in Vienna, Nitsch received training in painting when studied at the Wiener Graphische Lehr-und Versuchanstalt, during which time he was drawn to religious art.[1][2] He is associated with the Vienna Actionists—a loosely affiliated group of off-kilter and confrontational Austrian artists that also includes Günter Brus, Otto Muehl, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler.[3]

Nitsch's abstract splatter paintings, like his performance pieces, address the excessive beauty and intensification of human existence. In the 1950s, Nitsch conceived of the Orgien Mysterien Theater (which roughly translates as Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries or The Orgiastic Mystery Theater), staging nearly 100 performances between 1962 and 1998.[3]

Orgien Mysterien Theater[edit]

Nitsch's Orgien Mysterien Theater performances (or Aktionen, as he calls them) can be considered both ritualistic and existential. The scene is often involved with slaughters, religious sacrifices, crucifixion, as well as blood and flesh. The performances are also accompanied with music, dancing, and active participants.[3]

The First Orgien Mysterien Theater[edit]

In the first Orgien Mysterien Theater performance, Hermann Nitsch and his friends used animal carcasses, entrails, and blood in a ritualistic way. The cloths, bandages and other fabrics used in these performances introduced Nitsch to the idea of making paintings.[1]

Controversial aspects[edit]

Having grown up during the World War II, Nitsch reveals his fascination with the intensity of religious feelings for life in his art work with excessive means such as taboo images, nudity, bloody scenes and more. For this, he received several court trials and three prison terms. It is often suggested that his work may exemplify cultures' fascination with violence.[1][4][5][6]


  1. ^ a b c Hermann Nitsch, Discogs.
  2. ^ Hermann Nitsch, Art Directory.
  3. ^ a b c HERMANN NITSCH, By Jonas Vogt, Alexander Nussbaumer.
  4. ^ Article in Italian newspaper La Repubblica
  5. ^ Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath: The Sacrificial Rites of Hermann Nitsch.
  6. ^ Animals, art and death: a note on Hermann Nitsch's 3-Day-Play.


  • Stark, Ekkehard. Hermann Nitschs 'Orgien Mysterien Theater' und die "Hysterie der Griechen." Quellen und Traditionen in Wiener Atikedild seit 1900
  • Winkler, Michael. Review: Hermann Nitschs 'Orgien Mysterien Theater' und die "Hysterie der Griechen." Quellen und Traditionen in Wiener Atikedild seit 1900 by Ekkehard Stark. The German Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 4, 60th Anniversary 1928-1988 (Autumn, 1988) pp. 590–591.
  • Romberg, Osvaldo. Redemption through Blood:pp. 8–13, 60-71

External links[edit]