Hermann Nitsch

Günter Brus’ contribution to the 1987 Luna Luna park was the Hand-Painted Universe of Crayons Pavilion Walk-Through Attraction

Hermann Nitsch collaborated with longtime friend and fellow Viennese Actionist Günter Brus to create a sonic work for Brus’s pavilion. Nitsch’s organ composition formed a primal, violent soundtrack as audience members made their way through the different rooms of Brus’s fantastical world.

Artist

Hermann Nitsch

Attraction

Organ soundtrack for Günter Brus’s installation

Born

1938, Austria

Nitsch was renowned for a body of work encompassing religious sacrifices, crucifixions, music, dancing, and audience participation

He was the pioneer of Wiener Aktionismus (“Viennese Actionism”), a radical artistic movement that began in 1962, in which a group of artists created shockingly violent performances

His highly controversial works involving animal slaughter and dismemberment were frequently the subject of protests

Hermann Nitsch.

André Heller, Hermann Nitsch.

Performance art pioneer Hermann Nitsch is renowned for a body of work encompassing religious sacrifices, crucifixions, music, dancing, and audience participation. He is a founder of Wiener Aktionismus (“Viennese Actionism”), creating deliberately shocking “actions” as a reaction against the legacy of Nazi fascism in Austria to highlight the violence of humanity. Viennese Actionists—a group that also included artists Günter Brus, Otto Muehl, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler—are known for ritualistic, quasi-religious ceremonies in which nude protagonists brutalized their bodies, using self-harm, feces, bodily fluids, and the blood and entrails of animals.

Performance art pioneer Hermann Nitsch is renowned for a body of work encompassing religious sacrifices, crucifixions, music, dancing, and audience participation.

At the core of Nitsch’s work were Orgien Mysterien Theater (“Orgies Mysteries Theater”), disturbing ceremonies combining Christian iconography, blood, animal carcasses, and other ritualistic elements. Nitsch staged over 100 of these performances, including the 6-Day-Play (1998), which contained three orchestras, a chamber music group, a butcher, and numerous doctors in addition to thousands of liters of wine, hundreds of liters of blood, and several animal carcasses. Every part of these actions was meticulously scripted to create a Gesamtkunstwerk—or “total work of art”—combining painting, music, and action. Music and sound played an essential role, with Nitsch composing soundtracks ranging from Gregorian chants to noise orchestras and scream choirs. Nitsch also frequently performed stand-alone organ concerts, describing his music as originating from a human scream.

Hermann Nitsch organ soundtrack performed within Brus's Universe of crayons pavilion. Luna Luna, Hamburg, Germany, June-July, 1987.

Hermann Nitsch collaborated with longtime friend and fellow Viennese Actionist Günter Brus to create the music for Brus’s pavilion—a magical castle formed from crayons, the interior filled with paintings depicting the birth and death of its imaginary half-human, half-crayon figures. Nitsch’s organ composition formed a primal, violent soundtrack as audience members made their way through the different rooms of Brus’s fantastical world.

Discover more about your favorite artists and attractions

In the original Luna Luna book, translated and reissued for the first time since 1987.