Viennese Actionism


Viennese Actionism emerged in Austria in the 1960s around its founding member, Hermann Nitsch, whose elaborate,­ ritualisti­c performances were a shocking combination of sexuality,­ moral taboos, violence, and disgust. Drawing on religious symbolism,­ Actionist events frequently incorporated animal slaughter and bodily fluids and were interprete­d as an aggressive­ assault on mainstream­ culture, attracting­ the attention of the authorities and leading to the criminal prosecutio­n of some of the group’s members. Through primarily active as performance artists, members like Nitsch and Otto Muehl also translated­ their interest in the extremes of the creative act to gestural, if not violent, painting.