Günter Brus is one of the most radical representatives of the Viennese Actionism. While Brus caused a stir with actions in the 1960ies, he turned towards drawing in the early 1970ies.
Brus graduated from the School for Applied Arts in Graz (Austria) and moved to Vienna in 1956, where he met Alfons Schilling who became his closest friend. Impressed by German Expressionism and by artists like e. g. Emilio Vedova, he started with a radically gestural style of painting in autumn 1960 that broke the picture format. 1964 Brus carried out his first action and released himself thereby totally from informal painting.
1966 Brus and Muehl had the idea for a total-action to combine the material-action of Muehl with Brus'self-mutilations. A first sample was presented at the "Destruction in Art Symposium" in London.
From the drawings and paintings that accompanied his entire actionist oeuvre, he developed a combination of literature and visual art from the 1970s onwards, beginning with the portfolio Irrwisch. He produced works that he called "Bild-Dichtungen" (pictorial poems), which opened up a new phase in Brus's oeuvre and can be regarded as an independent phase within his works; the fruit of which was the rich graphic and literary work of the 1970s and 1980s. In general, both his actions and his graphic works are characterized by radicalism, drama, excessiveness and uncompromising.
Günter Brus participated at Documenta 5 in Kassel (1972), at Documenta 6 (1977) and Documenta 7 (1982) and in 1996 he received the Great Austrian State Prize for Fine Arts for his life's work.