Herman Nitsch - Biography


Born in Vienna


Develops the idea of the Orgien Mysterien Theatre, a six-day festival based on the artist’s philosophy and which he has been developing down to the present day. The O.M. Theatre is a new form of the total work of art, one where reality is staged. All the senses are stressed and involved.


Aktionen (action performances) and exhibitions take place in Vienna, resulting in several court trials and three prison terms. He therefore leaves Austria and moves to Germany where he lives till 1978


The Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS), London, 20th action performance, Vienna


Cinématheque, New York, performance of the 25th and 26th actions;
University of Cincinnati, 28th action; moves to Bavaria, Germany, and marries Beate König in Munich


Acquisition of Prinzendorf Castle (location of the 6-day play)


Participates in Documenta 5, Kassel, curated by Harald Szeemann;

first 12-hour action performance (40th) at the Mercer Art Center in New York


The 24-hour 50th action is performed in Prinzendorf


Beate Nitsch dies in a car accident


Participates in Documenta 7, Kassel


Exhibition: Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven


80th action; three-day play, Prinzendorf


20th painting performance at the Wiener Secession, Vienna


Marries Rita Leitenbor; exhibition: Städtische Galerie im Lehnbachhaus, Munich


Hermann Nitsch teaches a class of interdisciplinary art at the Frankfurt Academy of Fine Arts (Städel)


First performance of the 8th symphony, Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna


Exhibition: Galleria Civica di arte Contemporanea, Trieste


Exhibition: Pabellòn de las Artes, Seville


Exhibition: National Gallery, Prague


Exhibition: Kunsthalle Krems


Décor and realization of the stage direction for the opera Hériodade by Jules Massenet at the Vienna Opera


Performance of the 96th action, San Martino, Naples 38th painting performance, Schömerhaus, Klosterneuburg

Exhibitions: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Wörlen, Passau; Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome and Centre d´exposicions i documentació de l’Art Contemporani, Palma de Mallorca


40th painting performance, Museum of the 20th Century, Vienna
Exhibition: Kunsthallen Göteborg


6-day play performed between 3 and 9 August in Prinzendorf


Exhibition of relics, relic installations and video documentation of the 100th action – 6-day play at the Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, Palais Liechtenstein, Vienna and at the Kiscelli Museum, Budapest


Video presentation of an extended version of the 6-day play at several venues, including Los Angeles, the Portikus in Frankfurt and Mönchengladbach as well as the development of his concept of theatre and painting


Set and costume design for the opera Satyagraha by Philip Glass at the Festspielhaus St. Pölten; performance of the 107th action in Prinzendorf


Performance of the 110th Lehraktion (a teaching action) at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London


Large retrospective at the Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg;
Performance of the 115th action Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg


Performance of the 120th action: 2-day play, Prinzendorf


Performance of the 122nd action at the Burgtheater, Vienna;
Exhibitions: The Triumph of Painting, Saatchi & Saatchi, London, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston;
Awarded the “Großer Österreichischer Staatspreis”


Exhibitions: White Space Gallery, Beijing, and the Mike Weiss Gallery, NYC; Large retrospective at the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin


Opening of the Hermann Nitsch Museum in Mistelbach; set and costume design for Szenen aus Goethes Faust by Robert Schumann at the Zurich Opera House


Opening of the Museo Archivio Laboratorio per le Arti Contemporee Hermann Nitsch Napoli by Fondazione Morra with an O. M. Theatre exhibition; other exhibitions: the 20th painting action in Museum Hermann Nitsch Mistelbach; awarding of the title of Dr. h. c. by the University Cluj, Romania


56th painting performance in the Hermann Nitsch Museum, Mistelbach, and the Künstlerhaus, Vienna; first performance of the Egyptian Symphony, Hermann Nitsch Museum, Mistelbach; publication of the book “Das Sein”; the Nitsch Foundation is set up; exhibitions: Künstlerhaus, Vienna; Kavernen, Salzburg; De Pont Museum Tilburg, Holland, Incubate Festival in Tilburg, Holland, GAM Turin, DIRIMART Istanbul


Exhibitions: Kasa Galeri, Istanbul; Masterworks from the Duerkheim Collection, Hermann Nitsch Museum, Mistelbach; Pio monte della misericordia, Naples; Art at Karner, Lower Austria; exhibition and presentation of the Leviticus, Har-el Printers and Publisher, Jaffa; Asolo Art Film Festival; Musée d'art Moderne, St. Etienne; Museum for graphics, Markus Gell, Vorarlberg; Mumok, Vienna; Art Austria; Stella Art Foundation, Moskau; Nitsch Foundation, Vienna. Concerts: organ concert, Art at Karner, Lower Austria; Theatre Duse, Asolo Art Film Festival; Presentation of the Egyptian Symphony, Haus der Musik, Vienna. Video screening: GAM, Turin; Hermann Nitsch a documentary by Daniela Ambrosoli, Film Casino, Vienna. Action: 130th performance, Museo Nitsch, Neapels.


Exhibitions: Blood lines, MCA Denver; Mike Weiss Gallery, New York; Leo Koenig Inc., New York; The early work - the essence of the Duerckheim Collection, Hermann Nitsch Museum, Mistelbach; 54th Biennale di Venezia, Italy; Personal Structures, 54th Biennale di Venezia, Venice; Structures, Leopold Museum, Vienna. Group Exhibitions: Obsession and intimacy: the body in contemporary Austrian drawings - from Alfred Kubin to Birgit Jürgenssen, b&m Theocharakis Foundation, Athens; Eroi, Galleria d'arte moderna, Turin. Music: direction and setting of the opera "San francois d`assise" from Olivier Messiaen, Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich; Organ concert, Mozarteum, Salzburg.  Performances: 60th painting performance, Mike Weiss gallery, New York; 131st teaching performance, Leo Koenig Inc., New York. 


Exhibitions: Leviticus, Kunstkulturkirche, Frankfurt; Gallery Thoman Modern, Innsbruck; 5 years Hermann Nitsch Museum, Mistelbach; Hermann Nitsch Personale, Museum of modern Art, Klagenfurt, Carinthia; Hermann Nitsch: from his total work of art, Gallery Walker; In vivo hermann nitsch, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Group Exhibitions: Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk, 21er Haus, Vienna; Explosion painting as action, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Explosion painting as action, Fondacio Joan Miro, Barcelona; A bigger Splash: painting after performance art, Tate Modern, London; Performances: 135th performance Havana, Cuba; 64th painting performance, Museo di arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento, Rovereto.  


Exhibitions: Senses and Being - Retrospective, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; Weltverwandlung, Nitsch Foundation, Vienna. Group exhibitions: Flesh and blood, Museum on the Seam, Israel; Personal Structures, Palazzo bembo, 55th Biennale di Venezia; La perversión de lo clásico: anarquía de los relatos, Museo Archeologico, Cuba Pavillon, 55th Biennale di Venezia. Performances: 3-days-play, Centraltheater Leipzig. Concerts: String-quintet "1938", Nitsch Foundation, Vienna.


Exhibitions: New York | Nitsch Foundation, Nitsch Foundation, Vienna; The Orgien mysterien theater, CIA, Hong Kong; arena - work out of the work, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Bratislava; performances: action painting Dirimart, Istanbul. Group Exhibitions: Made in Austria, Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg; in dialogue: Viennese Actionism, Museum of Modern Art, Salzburg; Biennale disegno, Rimini; Rites of Passage - the early years of Vienna Actionism, 1960-1966, Hauser & Wirth, New York; Blood, Science Gallery Dublin, Irland; Performances: 142. action pfingstfest; 70. painting action Gallery Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Vienna. Music: selten gehörte Musik, Kunsthaus Zug.


Exhibitions: Hermann nitsch – Memorial against the war, Canakkale, Turkey; Marc Straus Gallery, New York; Drawings, Nitsch Foundation Vienna; Existenz.Fest Hermann Nitsch and the theatre, Theatre Museum, Vienna; The Summherhall Art Festival, Edingburgh; To the traces of Sigmud Freud, Nitsch Foundation, Vienna; Hermann Nitsch a Palermo, ZAC Palermo. Group Exhibitions: Sleepless – the bed in history and contemporary art, 21er Haus, Vienna; Vienna for Art’s Sake, Belvedere / Winterpalais, Vienna; My body is the event - vienna actionism and international performance, Mumok, Vienna. Performances: 143. action, Belvedere / Winterpalais, Vienna. Symposia: Animal Ethics, nitsch museum, Mistelbach. Concerts: Symphony for Mexico City, Ex teresa arte actual, Mexico City; String quartet in 4 movements, Gallery Konzett, Vienna.


Exhibitions: Hermann Nitsch. Selected posters from 5 decades, Berlin; Existenz.Fest - Hermann Nitsch and the theatre, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich; Ritual, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; Passion – Resurrection, Nitsch Foundation, Vienna; Opere dall'opera, Museo Nitsch, Naples. Group Exhibitions: Body, psyche & taboo, Mumok, Vienna; Closed universe? (part 1), Gallery Martinetz, Colone. Concerts: pipe organ concert in the Epiphanienkirche, Berlin; String quartet in 4 movements, Nitsch Foundation, Vienna. Performances: 147th action, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich.



Works by Hermann Nitsch are to be found in the following museums and collections (selection):

Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Collection, New York; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Museum University of Yale; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri; Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Tate Gallery, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Museo Capodimonte, Naples; Galleria d’arte moderna, Bologna; Mart, Trent; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Nationalgalerie Berlin; Lenbachhaus, Munich; Nationalgalerie Munich; Graphische Sammlung, Munich; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; Kunsthalle Hamburg; Museum Neue Galerie, Saarbrücken; Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen; Kunstmuseum Bern; Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; Wolfgang Gurlitt Museum, Linz; Rupertinum, Salzburg; Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck; Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art; Mar, Museo d’arte della città di Ravenna, Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, New York.