HERMANN NITSCH Scores, Pourpaintings and Relics

Hermann Nitsch is one of the most prolific and most influential figures of Austrian Post-War-Art.
Having most recently established a new auction record in late June this year, we are happy to provide you with a selection of imporatant works by Hermnn Nitsch we can offer.

In our most recent exhibition in Vienna in 2019 (together with JULIAN SCHNABEL) we presented a conceptual dialogue between the technical aspects of Hermann Nitsch’s theory to actionist art and his subsequent painterly Ouevre. 

Following we can provide a selection of works, from Pourpaintings to very important Relics (Relikte), Action photographs (Aktionsfotografien) and - most notably - scores to some of his recent "Aktionen" (155. Aktion - Aktionssinfonie 2018, 138. Aktion Leipzig & 138. Aktion - Aktionssinfonie).

Pourpaintings Scores and Relics
In contrast to the very intense, organic, partly chaotic and seemingly arbitrary execution, the artist’s actions have never been improvised. Instead, every detail is minutely planned out in advance and laid out in scores. While the Pourpaintings are representations of Nitsch's painting actions, we also provide the documentary part of his actions as Gesamtkunstwerke

Besides early drawings, prints and colour scales, the presentation includes photographic documents of early actions, which make palpable their intensive atmosphere, as well as relics of performed works, and also scores. 

One of the highlights, no doubt, is the score to the 155th action performance on the occasion of the artist’s eightieth birthday in Mistelbach. For the first time, the musical performance here takes centre stage. With the help of an orchestra of countless string, wind and percussion instruments, as well as a huge choir, Hermann Nitsch weaves a sound carpet, whose swelling and subsiding creates a very dense atmosphere. Another special feature of the 155th action performance is the exclusive use of harvested fruit, instead of animal carcasses and organs, which turned the sacrificial ritual into an ecstatic harvest festival, and made the artist arrive in the 21st century for good. This selection documents the action performance by way of its score and a relic.

The painting of the Orgien Mysterien Theater is based on informal art. Tachism, as a form of possibility to give form and expression to the unconscious in a sensually excited production process, as well as its dramatic-dynamic potential, is the basis of action painting, the excessive pouring of paint onto vertical or horizontal canvases, which Nitsch himself describes as the "visual grammar of action theatre on a picture surface". The elementary sensual excitement of painting, caused by the spilling, splashing and smearing of paint, corresponds to that of actions with flesh, blood and entrails, and it seems to be just as suitable for the abreaction of repressed desires and drives as these. The painting actions (before an audience from 1960 onwards) with their temporal, ecstatic sequences are the precursors to the actual theatrical actions, in which the pictorial means are then substituted by real ones. The painting process increases in its intensity to an action, the picture surface is replaced by reality. In 1962, for the first time in a painting action, blood is poured out and a killed lamb is crucified. In 1963 the first public action takes place. In the mid-1960s, action theatre completely displaced painting, which was only re-established as an independent genre many years later. Since 1963, instead of painting, which seems to have been completely absorbed by the Orgien Mysterien Theater, the RELICS of actions are transformed into artistic objects. The fabrics and garments, marked by the action's events, stained and defiled, are considered authentic documents of the event; they preserve the actions and their traces and maintain their topicality over time. The artist has been systematically collecting the action relics - cloths, shirts, stretchers - since 1968. One year later, Hermann Nitsch also integrated chasubles of the Christian church into action painting. Later, the artist extended this idea to his own worn painting shirts - as a true testimony of the (ritual) event.