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Lot 3447* - A199 PostWar & Contemporary - Thursday, 02. December 2021, 04.00 PM


(Vienna 1938–lives and works in Vienna)
19. Malaktion. 1986.
Oil and collage on paper on canvas.
Signed, dated and titled on the reverse: hermann nitsch 1986 19. malaktion.
120 × 160 cm.

- Private collection Vienna.
- Im Kinsky Wien, Auction 30 November 2010, Lot 82.
- Private collection Italy.
- Sotheby's London, Auction 30 July 2020, Lot 836.
- Purchased from the above by the present owner, since then collection Great Britain.

"My work should be a school of life, perception and sensation and should be experienced with all five senses" Hermann Nitsch.

Born in Vienna in 1938, the painter, graphic artist, composer, stage designer and Actionist Hermann Nitsch is one of the most important exponents of Viennese Actionism. Art and religion and painting as a ritual run through his entire oeuvre. On an international level, Hermann Nitsch is one of the most versatile contemporary artists. His provocative art “Actions”, which deliberately break with social taboos and always operate on the fringes of sensual, emotional, social and legal boundaries, have made him world-famous.

After studying at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, Hermann Nitsch worked as a commercial artist at the Technical Museum in Vienna. During this time, he focused intensively on Expressionism and religious figure themes. In 1961 the artist created his first “Schüttbilder”. As he turned to Art Informel and literature, he developed the concepts for his first painting “Actions”, from which the "Orgien Mysterien Theater" developed. In order to trigger the sensation of smelling, touching and tasting, Nitsch used real substances such as milk, vinegar, wine, blood or meat. His Actions became increasingly provocative. He drew on sacrificial rituals in his art and increasingly carried out real acts such as tearing up a lamb, etc. In doing this, his art crossed the boundary between life and reality. Disgust and fascination are held in balance. His constant conflicts with the authorities forced him to move to Germany in 1968. Surprisingly, at almost the same time, Hermann Nitsch was enjoying great success with his productions in the United States of America, which was considered extremely prudish, and in many European cities.

In the wake of his participation in documenta in 1972 and 1982, the international art market responded more strongly. In 1984, the artist was awarded the Austrian Art Prize for Fine Arts. On the occasion of his 50th birthday he was honoured with a large retrospective at the Lenbachhaus in Munich. From 1989 until his retirement, Nitsch taught at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main.

For Hermann Nitsch, painting represents one of the disciplines of his "Orgien-Mysterien-Theater". It is deeply anchored in Actionism, performance and multimedia. For the artist, painting is the origin of the Actions, and, at the same time, it is the outcome. Hermann Nitsch's works often go beyond the viewer's field of vision. He has continuously developed his painting since the 1960s and has developed his own specific approach for each painting Action and each group of works, the results of which can be walked through and experienced as colour spaces and poured installations. Sometimes Nitsch applies the paint in liquid or impasto form and occasionally with a brush. Now and then it is poured, sprayed or smeared with the bare hand. "Flesh, viscera, internal organs, blood and gore convey marvellous colours," says Nitsch, who used more than just oil paints for two of the paintings on offer. In two of the works offered at auction, Hermann Nitsch made exclusive use of the colour red. Red is the most intense colour of all. It denotes life and death and is a symbol of fire, love, flesh and blood.

Hermann Nitsch lives and works at his castle in Prinzendorf in Lower Austria and in Asolo in Italy. His work is represented in the two Nitsch museums in Mistelbach and Naples, in the Nitsch Foundation in Vienna, as well as in the most renowned museums and galleries worldwide.

CHF 28 000 / 34 000 | (€ 28 870 / 35 050)

Sold for CHF 33 240 (including buyer’s premium)
All information is subject to change.