NITSCH. Spaces of Color

17 May–11 August 2019
ALBERTINA, Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna

Painting is one of the disciplines encompassed by the “Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries” of Hermann Nitsch. His approach to this art form is deeply rooted in actionism, performance, and multimediality. Painting represents both the origin and the outcome of Nitsch’s actions. And with the exhibition NITSCH. Spaces of Color, the ALBERTINA Museum now aims to allow Nitsch’s painted works to be perceived not as part of a greater whole, but as paintings in and of themselves for the first time.

Nitsch’s painting explodes typical panel painting dimensions, conquering walls in an all-over manner and intervening in spaces in the form of comprehensive installations. This exhibition reveals an artist who has continually elaborated upon his conception of painting since the 1960s—developing approaches specific to every painting action and every group of works. The results of these approaches can now be entered and experienced as rooms of colors and as installations featuring all-over painting.

The artist applies his paint sometimes in liquid form and sometimes with a pasty consistency, splattering or spraying it or even just smearing it with his bare hands. It was in 1960 that Hermann Nitsch completed his first poured paintings, a type of action painting in which his primary interest was in the substance of the paint itself, something he investigated from one painterly action to the next. While he initially produced monochrome works in red, color combinations and color tone took on increasing significance for the artist beginning in the mid-1980s. The present selection of works traces the development of Nitsch’s painted oeuvre up to the present. While the red, black, and yellow of the monochrome works dominates one room, the next room plays host to veritable chromatic explosions. This exhibition on the occasion of Hermann Nitsch’s 80th birthday impressively demonstrates the significance of this great Austrian painter.

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