On first viewing the work of Hermann Nitsch, the uninitiated
may wonder whether he’s a murderous psychopath who conned
the art world into funding satanic rites and blood-drenched bacchanalia.
The reality is that Nitsch is the scraggly-bearded ringleader of the Orgy
Mystery Theater, a performance-art group and ongoing project that
staged nearly 100 ritualistic performances from the early 60s to the late
90s. The events were bizarre orgies of the senses replete with animal
immolation, crucifixion, piles of fruit, entrails, white robes, nudity, gallons
of vital fluids, and God knows what else. These irreverent celebrations
culminated in the Six-Day Play, Nitsch’s take on the story of creation,
which was held at a castle he has lived in for more than 40 years.
Nitsch received his formal artistic instruction as a painter at Wiener Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt in Austria. His large-scale canvases are drenched and splattered in reds, browns, and grays. They look as if he pulverized a large mammal in a g
ON MUSIC (HERMANN NITSCH, 1999)
“the essentially new dimension of my theatre is the overcoming of role-play by staging real happenings. real happenings automatically call for the gesamtkunstwerk. they are to be experienced tangibly through all five senses. they can be tasted, smelt,