Viennese Actionism was a short and violent movement in 20th-century art. It can be regarded as part of the many independent efforts of the 1960s to develop “action art” (Fluxus, happening, performance art, body art, etc.). Its main participants were Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, Hermann Nitsch, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. As “actionists”, they were active between 1960 and 1971. Most have continued their artistic work independently from the early 1970s onwards.

The artists focused on the motifs of violence and the human body using graphic paintings and ‘aktions’, performances pieces that sought to expose taboos. Examples, pour vous: one night, Nitsch took an audience to a  basement and slaughtered a lamb, spraying them all with gore. He was then crucified while being doused in the lamb’s blood and entrails. Brus focussed a little more on himself, slicing himself with a razor while urinating and shitting in the street. Mühl it appears was the Casanova of the group, setting up a free love commune and making a rule that you had to have it off “as often as a Muslim prays to Mecca” with different people, while Schwarzkogler produced unsettling pictures of mummified figures being injected and variously assaulted in bloody and tortuous ways

Much of the existing moving-image documentation of Viennese Actionist work survives because of strong ties between the Actionists and art/experimental filmmaking of the 1960s. The Austrian filmmaker Kurt Kren  participated in the documentation of Actions as early as 1964, producing a body of Actionist related works that stand as historic  avant-garde films in their own right for their use of rapid editing. As well, Otto Muehl produced a significant body of Actionist related film work that has been celebrated in Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art. #destroytheday

Viennese Actionism was a short and violent movement in 20th-century art. It can be regarded as part of the many independent efforts of the 1960s to develop “action art” (Fluxus, happening, performance art, body art, etc.). Its main participants were Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, Hermann Nitsch, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. As “actionists”, they were active between 1960 and 1971. Most have continued their artistic work independently from the early 1970s onwards.

The artists focused on the motifs of violence and the human body using graphic paintings and ‘aktions’, performances pieces that sought to expose taboos. Examples, pour vous: one night, Nitsch took an audience to a basement and slaughtered a lamb, spraying them all with gore. He was then crucified while being doused in the lamb’s blood and entrails. Brus focussed a little more on himself, slicing himself with a razor while urinating and shitting in the street. Mühl it appears was the Casanova of the group, setting up a free love commune and making a rule that you had to have it off “as often as a Muslim prays to Mecca” with different people, while Schwarzkogler produced unsettling pictures of mummified figures being injected and variously assaulted in bloody and tortuous ways

Much of the existing moving-image documentation of Viennese Actionist work survives because of strong ties between the Actionists and art/experimental filmmaking of the 1960s. The Austrian filmmaker Kurt Kren participated in the documentation of Actions as early as 1964, producing a body of Actionist related works that stand as historic avant-garde films in their own right for their use of rapid editing. As well, Otto Muehl produced a significant body of Actionist related film work that has been celebrated in Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art. #destroytheday