Schüttbild signed and dated 1986 (verso); further dated 18 Mai 8 (on stretcher) oil on jute 300 x 200 cm. (118 1/4 x 78 3/4 in.) Executed at the 19th Malaktion, held at Prinzendorf in May 1986
Provenance: Galerie Kalb, Vienna.
Literature: Veit Loers and Hanno Millesi,.ed, Hermann Nitsch, Malakationen und Relikte 1963-1994, no.29, (illustrated in colour).
The intellectual process defining the production and evolution of the art of Hermann Nitsch has become one on the most structured contributions to the aesthetic thinkings bridging the 20th and 21st centuries. In the 1970s, emerging from the Austrian group Aktionismus based in Vienna, Nitsch departed on a solitary mission to re-position canvas painting within an art world of ever-changing technique, inspiration and visual impact. Over the years, the outcome of Nitschs thinking process has led to shocking revelations about the essence of contemporary art according to the artist himself. Today, as one of the six international artists selected for Part I of Londons 2005 exhibition at the Saatchi-Gallery The Triumph of Painting, the name of Hermann Nitsch has gained resonance far beyond the circle of art aficionados, becoming an ever more desirable signature on the turning plate of the contemporary arena. Moving from the raw consumption of scatological elements on the canvas in the 1960s, Nitsch shifted towards a gradual (re-) interpretation of the use of medium in art. Experimenting with animal and human urine and excrement, he further explored the real world of flesh - body - and blood as artistic media, blurring the traditional distinctions between the body and the canvas, between the subject and the artist, and also between the creator and his object of creation. The process led Nitsch to enter the sphere of religion and consider the sacrifice of Jesus: under this light, the elements of body and blood introduced the appealing notion of the ritual, religious of course and also, by extension, artistic. It is here that the act of painting turns into the ritual of the act of sacrifice, where the artist commands all at once the bodily powers of smell, taste, touch, hearing and seeing. The two following lots in this sale present fine examples of the visual materialisations of the artists thinking process. While the first uses human blood as a medium the texture of which turns to a yellow-brown when dry the other refers to it as a colour, the brightness of which is sprayed onto the canvas as the result of an act of the Creator/Artist; an act of violence? of sacrifice? of birth? of death? The vast resources of Nitschs thought produce an uncompromising visual statement where the ritual calls upon the human elements for symbolic interpretation(s) or not. In this, Nitsch leaves the question of symbolism in art an open-ended issue in the fabric of contemporary aesthetics.