[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

Viennese Actionism

Related: body art - Hermann Nitsch - 1960s - Otto Mühl - Vienna - performance art

Films: Sweet Movie (1974)


The term Viennese Actionism describes a short and violent movement in 20th century art that can be regarded as part of the many independent efforts of the sixties to develop "action art" (Fluxus, Happening, Performance, Body Art, etc.). Its main participants were Günter Brus, Adolf Frohner, Otto Mühl, Hermann Nitsch, Alfons Schilling and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. As "actionists," they were active between 1960 and 1971. Most have continued their artistic work in an independent way from the early 1970s onwards. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna_Actionists [Aug 2004]


In 1970 Otto Mühl founded a commune in Vienna. The experiment was an offshoot of the ‘Aktionismus’, a Viennese version of the happenings in New York, lead by meanwhile legendary artists such as Nitsch, Schwarzkogler, and Brus. The happenings – in German ‘Aktionen’ – were an effort to lift all kinds of taboo in art. Many an artist proceeded to complement the revolution in art with a revolution in life itself. Life as the ultimate work of art, so to speak. -- Stefan Beyst, http://d-sites.net/english/m%C3%BChl.htm [Aug 2004]


by Walter Robinson

Thirty years ago the bloody high jinks of the Vienna actionists -- Hermann Nitsch, Otto Muehl, Günter Brus and Rudolph Schwarzkogler -- were viewed as little more than Grand Guignol posturing. Or at least so it seemed to a New York-centric art world, overcome by the triumph of Minimalist cool. How wrong can you be?

Today we see the Austrian esthetic has seeped across the globe to touch the avant-garde everywhere. Los Angeles has the drunken "Captain Bob" gross-out performances of Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy. London boasts the fly-specked cow heads of Damien Hirst. New York can claim Cindy Sherman's garbage-disposal self-portraits and Kiki Smith's matter-of-fact female body art. --Walter Robinson , http://www.artnet.com/magazine_pre2000/news/warobinson/warobinson10-10-98.asp [Jul 2004]

Writings of the Vienna Actionists - Brus, Muehl, Nitsch, Schwarzkogler, Malcolm Green, et al. (1999) - Hermann Nitsch

Writings of the Vienna Actionists - Brus, Muehl, Nitsch, Schwarzkogler, Malcolm Green, et al. (1999) - Hermann Nitsch [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Vienna Actionists were indeed unique — at the very outset of post-war performance art they trod a path very different from the "Happenings" in the USA or the belated neo-Dada pranks of many of their contemporaries. They not only established a new territory for art but they explored it so thoroughly as to make most subsequent "body art" simply irrelevant.

Brus, Muehl, Nitsch, Schwarzkogler: four artists who, during the Sixties, became notorious for pushing the definition of art to an extreme which has yet to be surpassed. Variously fined, gaoled, and forced into exile, they were ignored by the art establishment of the day, only to be hailed in recent years as one of the most outstanding and unique contibutions to post-war art in Europe. Exaggeration and myth still obscure their activities, however, and their actual motives for an art centred on the examination of taboos, the "hidden" secrets of the body, the aesthetics of destruction and the possibilities of regeneration have remained elusive. Subsequent generations of artists have claimed them as their forefathers or unscrupulously borrowed their ideas (but without approaching the intensity of their actions), and while international exhibitions have reclaimed their work for the visual arts, their writings have remained largely unpublished since they first appeared! in small mimeographed editions, or are long since out of print.

This anthology of photo-documentation and writings — which includes manifestos, theoretical texts, action scores, even police and psychiatric reports — has been assembled in collaboration with the three surviving artists. It provides the first comprehensive survey of their work, and for the first time illuminates their differing intentions. These texts employ humour and vitriol to elaborate a position in total opposition to contemporary social, political and aesthetic mores. A lucid narrative emerges of a determined exploration of these conditioning factors, by means of an art that used life itself as material. --Product Description

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications