Hermann Nitsch: Selected Paintings, Actions, Relics, and Musical Scores, 1965–2020
Pace Gallery – March 17 to April 29, 2023 Ney Work (US)
Pace is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings, photographs, relics, and musical scores by Hermann Nitsch at its 510 West 25th Street gallery in New York.
This will be Pace’s first show—and the first planned posthumous exhibition—dedicated to Nitsch, a founder of the Viennese Actionism movement who died last year at age 83. On view from March 17 to April 29, the exhibition will be accompanied by the premiere of a new performance and installation by artist Miles Greenberg, presented by Pace Live. Performances on March 17, 18, 24, and 25 will complement and speak to Nitsch’s oeuvre, and Greenberg’s presentation, titled Fountain II, will situate Nitsch’s experimental practice within a contemporary context.
On the occasion of the exhibition, Pace Publishing, in collaboration with the Nitsch Foundation, will produce the first English translation of Nitsch’s autobiography, an oral history of the artist’s life that he first published in 1995 (second edition 2005, third edition 2018).
Than 60 years.
Over the course of more than 60 years, Nitsch cultivated an intensive practice that spans performance, painting, drawing, printmaking, film, photography, music, poetry, and philosophy. A leading figure of the Austrian avant- garde, Nitsch was a founder of the Viennese Actionism movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The disruptive ethos of this movement brought irreverent performance work to the forefront of Vienna’s art scene in the latter half of the 20th century. A key art historical figure in Europe, Nitsch has been cited as an influence by Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Chris Burden, and other major American artists.
Tragedy in explorations.
Nitsch’s extensive performance work often features nudity, multifarious noises, and enactments of tragedy in explorations of rituals and primordial urges. The artist’s seminal work is the large-scale six-day Orgies Mysteries Theatre, which he began developing in the mid-1950s. For this work, the artist drew inspiration from literature, art, music, and philosophy to produce “a total work of art” that engages all five senses. In the Orgies Mysteries Theatre, Nitsch incorporates substances like blood and meat to elicit intense and varied reactions from viewers.
Orgies Mysteries Theatre.
In summer 2022, an extended version of the 6-Day-Play of the Orgies Mysteries Theatre, first performed in full in 1998, was staged at Austria’s Prinzendorf Castle, which the artist purchased in 1971 and used as a set for his ambitious performances. This extended performance has a strong emphasis on music. Also last year, Nitsch’s 20th Painting Action works, which he first presented in the Wiener Secession in 1987, were shown at Oficine 800 on the island of Giudecca, Venice during the 59th Venice Biennale.
1962 and 2020.
Pace’s upcoming exhibition will bring together works created by Nitsch between 1962 and 2020. Offering a holistic survey of his painting and photography practices. In his paintings, the artist often incorporated splatters and splashes of oil or acrylic sometimes mixed with blood, producing visceral and evocative abstractions through a highly physical and gestural process. Nitsch understood his painting actions as the visual grammar of his theatrical actions, applied to a picture plane. The gallery’s presentation will include a selection of Nitsch’s large-scale paintings as well as two vibrant works on paper that the artist created in 2020—these dynamic abstractions featuring mesmeric plays of color and line speak to Nitsch’s formal explorations in his late career.
singular body of work.
The show will also feature three photo collages that chronicle a so-called Penis Irrigation Action staged in Nitsch’s Vienna apartment over the course of four hours in January 1965. These works reflect the artist’s interest in uniting the mediums of photography, painting, and performance in a singular body of work. Hermann Nitsch: Selected Paintings, Actions, Relics, and Musical Scores, 1965–2020 has been curated by Mark Beasley, Curator and Director at Pace Gallery, Valentina Volchkova, Senior Vice President at Pace Gallery; and Gudrun Marecek, Managing Director of the Nitsch Foundation, Vienna.
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