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Hermann Nitsch | Biography

7 Hermann Nitsch pHermann Nitsch (Vienna 1938) is one of the most famous international artists of the second half of the XX century. He’s the main exponent of the Wiener Aktionismus (with Günter Brus, Otto Mühl and Rudolf Schwarzkogler) that around the 60s become the major expression of the European Body Art movement. Between 1957 and 1960 Nitsch has developed the project for his Orgies Mysteries Theatre, an expression of total art (Gesamtkunstwerk) related to the psycho-analytical concept of Abreaction, an emotional motion that allows a subject to remove the effects of dramatic events. The execution of orgiastic and onanistic acts together with the staging of sacrificial rites (that remind both of pagan mysteries and of the Christian Passion) grant the cathartic liberation from religious, moral and sexual taboos. At that time Nitsch - graduated at the Sperimental Graphic Institute of Vienna - joins as a painter the tachiste movement that is based on the interpretation of the Informal culture exalting the gesture through which the dripping colour is directly thrown on canvas. From 1961 on, his actions, where a lamb is tore and its blood used as bleeding painting, become more often and more articulated. Since 1962 men are involved of his performances too; a passive-actor is “crucified” and sprinkled by bleeding blood. In the 60s more materials (as animals’ interiors), viewers and actors are involved in his performances. The provocation level has been increasing (in ’65 he went to prison for 14 days), the movement becomes more international especially in Germany where he gets in contact with Beuys, Vostell and in the USA with Kaprow and Fluxus. In the 1971 Nitsch buys a castle in Prindendorf, 50km. far away from Vienna that becomes the main place for his Orgien Mysterien Theater. Different actions take place from Whitsunday 1973. In 1974 he meets Peppe Morra and one of his actions (45.aktion) takes place in the Studio Morra and causes his expulsion from Italy. In the same year Peppe Morra arranges in Düsseldorf, Germany, a four days long monumental action. The Studio Morra becomes his main gallery and his publisher. His major theoretical work the “OM Theater 2” is published by Morra. In 1977, after the tragic death of his wife Beate, he commemorates her through the 56.action that takes place in the church of Santa Lucia in Bologna. The Requiem score is again published by Morra. In 1979 he moves to a fisherman’s house in the archaeological area near Cuma-Naples, where some years before he was with Morra and his wife Beate. This inspiring place is ideal to project a new action named Cuma könig oidipus III.fest. His friend Peppe Morra invites him to write the score. Nitsch has been working on this project for a long period and finally published after 11 years (in 1988). Than in the 70s and 80s the numbers of his actions increase, he’s invited to important international events, to museums, to take conferences and play his music.

His 80.ackion takes place in July 1984 and lasts 3 days and 3 nights. The score is published by Morra in 1994 in the volume titled “Hermann Nitsch”, with texts by Achille Bonito Oliva, Jürgen Schilling, Angelo Trimarco, Libero De Cunzo, Vincenzo Trione and the artist himself.

From the 90s on, Nitsch has been invited to Museums and Institutions all over the world (personal and collective exhibitions) where he principally shows with a strong expressive energy his relicts, objects, installation materials, big canvas, his scores and graphic projects, creating his peculiar language that embraces either to theatre, painting music, photo, video and performance.

The Hermann Nitsch Museum - Archive Lab for Contemporaries Arts in Napoli will open in concomitance with the Artist’s 70th birthday and will stand as a critical celebration of a personality that represents to high level the tensions, the problems and expressions of the contemporary society.


Fondazione Morra

Vico Lungo Pontecorvo 29/d
80135 Naples, Italy

Opening Times: Monday-Friday 10am-7pm| Saturday 10am-2pm

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Tel +39 081 5641655
Fax +39 081 5641494



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