A Homage to Hermann Nitsch at Musée de l’Orangerie

Hermann Nitsch, Poured Painting (2020). Source: Museé de l'Orangerie

The Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris is hosting a tribute to Hermann Nitsch, an Austrian artist celebrated for his provocative performances intertwined with dynamic, scarlet-hued canvases. Nitsch’s final works find resonance with Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies,” creating a dialogue between Viennese Actionism and Impressionism.

Hermann Nitsch: Hommage displays a selection of paintings and graphic works created shortly before Nitsch’s death in 2022. Selected straight out of the artist’s studio, these dynamic and explosive works act as a juxtaposition to Monet’s Water Lilies.

In the late 1950s, Nitsch co-founded Viennese Actionism and popularized the ideas of the “Theater of Orgies and Mysteries.” These performances, often brutal and controversial, involved the artist and collaborators subjecting themselves to physical challenges, referencing religious themes, and confronting Austria’s Nazi past and Catholicism.

Nitsch’s artistic journey spanned around 30 years, during which he combined these intense performances with equally dynamic and expressive paintings. His works featured sprawling surfaces filled with streams of reds and blacks, creating a visceral experience that seemed to echo scars and clots.

Hermann Nitsch Tribute (installation view). Source: Nitsch Foundation

In 2000, he transitioned to the “Resurrection Cycle,” emphasizing a more vibrant and colorful approach. Surprisingly, Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” became increasingly significant to Nitsch, inspiring him in the direction of resurrection and light.

Despite Nitsch not realizing his project for the Musée de l’Orangerie, the museum honors him posthumously with this exhibition, providing a visual exploration of Nitsch’s evolving and colorful artistic expression that intertwines with his performance art legacy.

The show captures the dynamism of Nitsch’s gesture and offers viewers a glimpse into the intersection of his expressive and religious painting, bringing a unique energy to the museum space.


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