Hermann Nitsch is a representative of the Actionism/”Wiener Aktionsmus”. Nitsch also stages so-called “Orgien-Mysterien-Theater”/orgy-mystery-theatres. These rituals are full of smashing power and elemental force.
After his diploma at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt/Higher School for Graphics in Vienna Nitsch started a job as graphic designer at the Technical Museum Vienna in 1957. Some years later he started his painting performances and had the first idea for the orgy-mystery-theatres on which he focused from that point on with all his energy. During the 1960ies Nitsch practised his Actionism in public which resulted in several jail stays which initiated Nitsch to moved to Germany.
After the great success of the orgy-mystery-theatres in the USA and Germany in the late 1960ies Nitsch brought his actionism to many North American and European Cities. 1971 he bought a castle (Schloss Prinzendorf) in Lower Austria where he also realised his music concerning visions. For the musical performances he used screaming choirs, noise-orchestras and electronically amplified instruments. Nitsch interprets life as a passion, the process of painting as concentrated life and therefore the incarnation of passion.
The central part of Nitsch’s oeuvre, the orgy-mystery-theatre, catches all senses and can demand strong nerves. Some key words: naked people bound to crosses, spilled blood and butchered pigs are tied to the human bodies, blood and organs spilled in great extent.
Nitsch not only paints with blood, he also uses colours, but even these paintings („Schüttbilder“/dumped paintings) are spectacular. He coordinates regiments of assistants in white frocks and buckets of paint are smeared with hands, feet or brooms, while the audience and photographers are gathering around the happening.
Nitsch’s works can be found in international collections. 2005 Nitsch received the “Goldene Ehrenmedaille”/Golden Medal of Honour of the city of Vienna as well as the “Große Österreichische Staatspreis für Bildende Kunst”/Great Austrian State Prize for Visual Arts.
There is the Museo Nitsch in Neapel and the Hermann Nitsch Museum in Mistelbach/Lower Austria. 2009 the Nitsch Foundation was founded with the goal to document and communicate Nitsch’s work.