Rite of Passage

The Early Years of Vienna Acitionism 1960–1966

Exhibition catalogue, ed. by Hubert Klocker
texts (German/English) by Hubert Klocker and Gloria Sutton
116 p with 110 coloured illustrations
290 x 220 mm, clothbound with silk-screen printing

ISBN 978-3-86442-097-9

(out of print)

A breaking point

Various developments of art in the second half of the last century have been influenced by the performa­t­ive paradigm of a new concept of art that considers painting and sculpture as a directly experiential, event-like and procedural gesture. With radical actions, and emphasis on physical body-centred performance, Günter Brus, Hermann Nitsch, Otto Muehl and Rudolf Schwarzkogler played a crucial part in this paradigm shift of the 1960s. From 1960, these artists undertook a process in which the painted image was stretched to its »breaking point« – in the truest sense of the expression. Representation in the artworks of Vienna Actionists, especially in their actions, was replaced by a vehement devotion to sensual, and directly perceptible values: blood for Nitsch, junk and rubbish for Muehl, white paint sludge and meaning-laden objects for Brus, as well as the deconstruction of the compositionally controlled image for Schwarzkogler. The exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, New York, along with the publication here presented, deal with this fundamental development between 1960 and 1966 with high-quality works of painting and collage, as well as a selection of excellent vintage prints of »staged photography« by the artists.

Hauser & Wirth, New York, 9/9–25/10/2014