8th painting action, 1963 © Photography: K. Bauer | P. Jurkowitsch

8th painting action, 1963 © Photography: K. Bauer | P. Jurkowitsch

Hermann Nitsch



Born in Vienna

Develops the idea of the Orgien Mysterien Theater, a 6-day festival based on the artist’s philosophy and which he has been developing down to the present day. The Orgien Mysterien Theater is a new form of the total work of art, one where reality is staged. All the senses are stressed and involved.

1960-1966 Aktionen (action performances) and exhibitions take place in Vienna, resulting in several court trials and three prison terms. He therefore leaves Austria and moves to Germany where he lives till 1978.
1961 Painting Actions and exhibition activity
1962 1. Action (30 minutes), Vienna
1963 Die Blutorgel (together with Adolf Frohner and Otto Muehl) Feast of psychophysical naturalism (with Otto Muehl)
1966 The Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS), London; 20th action performance, Vienna

Cinématheque, New York, performance of the 25th and 26th actions; University of Cincinnati, 28th action; moves to Bavaria, Germany, and marries Beate König in Munich

from 1969

numerous Actions, exhibitions and concerts in Austria and worldwide

1971 Acquisition of Prinzendorf Castle (location of the Orgien Mysterien Theater)
1972 Participates in Documenta 5, Kassel, curated by Harald Szeemann; first 12-hour action performance (40th) at the Mercer Art Center in New York
1975 The 24-hour 50th action is performed in Prinzendorf
1977 Beate Nitsch dies in a car accident
1980 World premiere of the Allerheiligen (of all saints) Sinfonie (6. Sinfonie), MAK Vienna
1982 Participates in Documenta 7, Kassel
1983 Exhibition: Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven
1984 80th action; “3-day-play“, Prinzendorf
1984-1993 Realizes his important work of graphic art “The architecture of the Orgien Mysterien Theater”, published by the Fred Jahn Gallery, Munich
1985 World premiere of the 7. Sinfonie, Steirischer Herbst Graz
1986 Exhibitions: Sala Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Madrid; Rupertinum, Salzburg; Secession, Vienna; PAC, Milan; Renaissance Society at the University, Chicago; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
1987 20th painting performance at the Wiener Secession, Vienna
1988 Marries Rita Leitenbor; Exhibition: Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich; takes part in the Sydney Biennale
1989 Exhibitions: Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna; Kunstverein, Salzburg; Luhring &     Augustine, N.Y.
1989-2003 Hermann Nitsch teaches a class of interdisciplinary art at the Frankfurt Academy of Fine Arts (Städel)
1990 Premiere of the 8th symphony, Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna; Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag; Museum der Moderne Salzburg; Nationalgalerie Prague; Kunsthalle Krems; Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
1991 Exhibitions: Galleria Civica di arte Contemporanea, Trent; St. Petri, Lübeck; Festspielhaus Bregenz; Traklhaus, Salzburg
1992 Exhibition: Pabellòn de las Artes, Seville, Exhibition at Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, Palais Liechtenstein, Vienna
1993 Exhibition: National Gallery, Prague
1994 Exhibitions: Kunsthalle, Krems; Raiffeisenhalle, Frankfurt; Casina Vanvitelliana, Fusaro    (Naples); Kärntner Landesmuseum, Klagenfurt
1995 Set design and co-direction of the opera “Hérodiade” by Jules Massenet at Vienna’s Staatsoper; Künstlerhaus, Vienna; Trinitatiskirche, Cologne

Performance of the 96th action, San Martino, Naples; 38th painting performance, Schömerhaus, Klosterneuburg; Exhibitions: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Wörlen, Passau; Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome and Centre d´exposicions i documentació de l’Art Contemporani, Palma de Mallorca, Centre Cultural, La beneficencia, sala Parpalló, Valencia

1997 40th painting action at the Museum of the 20th Century, Vienna; Exhibitions: Kunsthallen Gothenburg; Musee´ d´Art et d´Historie, Luxemburg; Neue Galerie, Linz; Kunstraum, Innsbruck
1998 6 day play at Prinzendorf from 3 to 9 August; The Island Symphony; Exhibitions: Kulturhaus, Weiz; MOCA, Los Angeles; MAK, Vienna; MACBA, Barcelona; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
1999 Exhibition of relics, relic installations and video documentation of the 100th action – “6-day-play“ at the Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, Palais Liechtenstein, Vienna and at the Kiscelli Museum, Budapest
2000 Video presentation of an extended version of the “6-day-play“ at several venues, including Los Angeles, the Portikus in Frankfurt and Mönchengladbach as well as the development of his concept of theatre and painting. Exhibition: Palazzo Stelline, Milano
2001 complete set design of the opera “Satyagraha” by Philip Glass at the Festspielhaus St. Pölten; 107th action at Prinzendorf; Exhibitions: Österreichische Galerie Oberes Belvedere, Vienna; Hamburgerbahnhof, Berlin
2002 110th teaching action at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Exhibitions: Fondazione   Morra, Naples; Kulturhaus, Bruck an der Mur; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg
2003 Exhibitions: "Nitsch. Eine Retrospektive", Essl Museum and the 115th action in the Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg; Haus der Musik, Vienna; Traklhaus, Salzburg
2004 120th action: 2 day play of the O.M. Theatre in Prinzendorf; Exhibitions: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; MUMOK, Vienna; Brucknerhaus, Linz; grafische Sammlung in Städelmuseum, Frankfurt; Haus der Musik, Vienna
2005 122th action in the Burgtheater, Vienna; Exhibitions: Saatchi & Saatchi, London; Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston; Neue Galerie, Graz; Slought Foundation, Philadelphia; NÖ Dokumentationszentrum für Moderne Kunst, St. Pölten; MARCO, Mexico; awarded the Grand Austrian State Prize
2006 Exhibitions: White Space Gallery, Beijing; Mike Weiss Gallery, NYC; Large retrospective at the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin
2007 Opening of the Hermann Nitsch Museum in Mistelbach; set and costume design for scenes to Goethes Faust by Robert Schumann at the Zurich Opera House NÖ. Exhibitions:Landesmuseum, St. Pölten; Fondazione Morra, Naples; Künstlerhaus, Vienna
2008 Opening of the Museo Archivio Laboratorio per le Arti Contemporee Hermann Nitsch Napoli by Fondazione Morra with an Orgien Mysterien Theatre exhibition; other exhibitions: the 20th painting action in Museum Hermann Nitsch Mistelbach; Triennale, Yokohama; awarding of the title of Dr. h. c. by the University Cluj, Romania
2009 first performance of the Egyptian Symphony, Hermann Nitsch Museum, Mistelbach; publication of the book “Das Sein“; the Nitsch Foundation is set up; 56th painting performance in the Hermann Nitsch Museum, Mistelbach; Exhibitions: Künstlerhaus, Vienna; Kavernen, Salzburg; De Pont Museum, Tilburg; GAM Turin

130th action Museo Nitsch, Naples; Exhibitions: Masterpieces of the Duerckheim Collection, Hermann Nitsch Museum, Mistelbach; Musée d’Art Moderne, St. Etienne; Stella Art Foundation, Moscow; Bookproject Leviticus, Israel

2011 décor and direction of the opera “Saint François d`Assise” by Olivier Messiaen at the Bavarian State Opera, Munich; 60th painting action in the Mike Weiss Gallery, New York; 131st teaching action at Leo Koenig Inc., New York; organ concert at the Mozarteum, Salzburg; Exhibitions: „Bloodlines“ MCA, Denver; “Structures” Leopold Museum, Vienna; “Eroi” in the Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Turin; “Personal Structures” as part of the 54th Biennale di Venezia, Italy
2012 Exhibitions: „Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk“, 21er Haus, Vienna; 5 years Hermann Nitsch Museum, Mistelbach; Explosion: Painting As Action, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Hermann Nitsch Personale, Carinthian Museum of Modern Art, Klagenfurt; In Vivo Hermann Nitsch, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Explosion: Painting as Action, Fondacio Joan Miro, Barcelona; A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance Art, Tate Modern, London; 135th action Habana, Cuba; 64th painting action, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di trento, Rovereto
2013 3 day play, Leipzig; 55. Biennale di Venezia; Exhibitions: „Flesh and Blood“ Museum on the Seam, Israel; „Faces“ Ernst Museum, Budapest; „About Caravaggio“ Scuderie Aldobrandini – Museo Tuscolano, Frascati near Rome; “The Senses and Being Retrospective” nitsch museum, Mistelbach
2014 Exhibitions: DIRIMART, Istanbul; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; Biennale Disegno Rimini; C.I.A. Hong Kong; Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg; nitsch museum, Mistelbach; Museo Nitsch Neapel; Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Bratislava, 70th Painting Action, Galerie Thoman, Vienna
144th Action, Theatermuseum, Vienna; Exhibitions: Theatermuseum, Vienna,  Çanakkale City Museum, Turkey; ZAC Palermo;  Exhibitions in progress: Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill/New York; Concert: Sinfonie for Mexico, Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City

147th Action, Villa Stuck, Munich; Exhibitions: Villa Stuck, Munich; AMO ARENA MUSEO OPERA, Verona;  Galerie 422, Gmunden; Art de Temple, Aschaffenburg; Dallas Biennial, USA; Grou exhibitions: mumok, Vienna; Concert: Symphony for Verona, Verona


Hermann Nitsch and His Artistic Pilgrimage UM Museum, Bongdam Hwaseong Korea; Museum CIAC
Foligno; IAGA Contemporary Art, Cluj; Graphics, nitsch museum Mistelbach;
149. Action, Pentecost feast, Prinzendorf; 150. Action, Dark Mofo Festival, Hobart, Tasmania;
Marc Straus; Parkview Green Museum, Beijing


155th action / action-symphony for the 80th birthday, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; Exhibitions: „Hermann Nitsch – Life and Work“, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; "reliti 152 azione“, 10 Anni Museo Hermann Nitsch, Naples; „Hermann Nitsch – A monographic show in Hagen“, Osthaus Museum Hagen; “Hermann Nitsch” Solo Show, Marc Straus Gallery, Armory Show, New York; “Hermann Nitsch – The Orgies Mysteries Theatre”, Massimo de Carlo, London; “Hermann Nitsch” , Galerie RX, Paris; “Hermann Nitsch – To the concept of the Orgies Mysteries Theatre”, Kulturhaus Hinterzarten;“Hermann Nitsch 80”, Nitsch Foundation, Vienna; “Drawings 1957-2017”, Büro Weltausstellung, Vienna; “Hermann Nitsch 80”, Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill and Galerie Kunst&Handel, Graz; Galerie 422, Gmunden; Group shows: „Double Lives“, mumok, Vienna;  „Intriguing Uncertainties“, Park View Museum, Singapore; Lectures: “Hermann Nitsch meets Robert C. Morgan”, Armory Show, New York; “Nitsch&Gelitin”, Massimo de Carlo, London; artist talk with Hermann Nitsch, Sammlung Hoffmann, Berlin; „Hermann Nitsch – Matinée“, artist talk, Museum Niederösterreich, St. Pölten; “Nitsch trifft … Michael Fleischhacker”, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; workshop on the musik of the O.M. Theatre, Prof. Leopoldo Siano, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; Concerts: organ concert, mumok, Vienna


Exhibitions: “Hermann Nitsch – The total work of art”, Lechner Museum, Ingolstadt; “Hermann Nitsch – Rooms of Color”, Albertina, Wien; “Hermann Nitsch. Katharsis”, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua; “Hermann Nitsch”, Richard Koh Fine Art, Singapur; “Hermann Nitsch”, Marc Straus Gallery, New York; “Hermann Nitsch. Pittura, Fotografie, Disegni”, Studio d’Arte Cannaviello, Mailand; “Hermann Nitsch – Life&Work”, The Culture Story, Singapore; Group shows: “Opéra Monde/Opéra Monde/Opera as the World – The quest for a total work of art”, Centre Pompidou, Metz; “Intriguing Uncertainties”, Park View Museum, Peking; “Disturbing Narrative”, Park View Museum, Singapore; “Dark Side”, Musja, Rome; “Ikonen”, Kunsthalle Bremen; 8. Internationale Biennale for Contemporary Art, New Tretjakov Gallery, Moscow; Concerts: organ concert, AngelicA Festival, Bologna; organ concert, Ars Electronica Festival, Stiftskirche St. Florian; “Albertina String Quartett”, Albertina, Vienna; “The music of the 6-day-play”, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; “Rarely heard music” (Attersee, Lüpertz, Nitsch, Rühm, Wiener) Belvedere21, Vienna; “Moscow Symphony”, New Tretjakov Gallery, Moskau; Lectures: “Nitsch meets Brus”, nitsch museum, Mistelbach;


158th action, Museo Hermann Nitsch, Naples; exhibitions: “Hermann Nitsch – New Works”, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; “Hermann Nitsch”, Galerie Bechter Kastowsky, Schaan; “rush of color”, Galerie Jahn Pfefferle, Munich; “The Shape of Color”, Galerie RX, Paris; “The Orgies Mysteries Theater”, Opera Gallery, Geneva; Group shows: “The Beginning. Art in Vienna from 1945 to 1980”, Albertina Modern; “Double Lifes”, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn; “Standing aside”, Gdansk City Gallery, Danzig; “Passion and Fervour. The Art of Powerful Emotions”, LWL Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Münster; “Casper David Friedrich / hermann Nitsch”, Albertinum, Dresden; concerts: “Moscow Symphony for String Orchestra”, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; events: “Nitsch meets … Dr. Erwin Pröll”, nitsch museum, Mistelbach;


Painting Action “Valkyrie”, Bayreuth Festival; exhibitions: “Hermann Nitsch – Bayreuth Walküre”, nitsch museum, Mistelbach; “Hermann Nitsch – Sinfonia Napoli”, Museo Hermann Nitsch, Naples; “Bayreuth Prelude”, Galerie RX, Paris; “Bayreuth Stories”, Galerie RX, New York; “Farbe als Material”, Burg Vischering, Lüdingshausen; “Hermann Nitsch. The Orgies Mysteries Theatre”, Museum of decorative Art and Design, Riga; “Hermann Nitsch. Mythos – Passion” works from the Sammlung Jaegers, Kunsthalle Jesuitenkirche, Aschaffenburg; group shows: “Odore – L’art, L’Odeur, e le Sacré”, Galerie Pauline Pavec, Paris; “Resistance”, Maruani Mercier, Brüssel; “Tense Conditions”, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; “Radical Austria. Everything is Architecture”, Design Museum Den Bosch, s’Hertogenbosch; “Costa/Nitsch. Il Viaggio nell’Ancestrale”, Galleria Michela Rizzo, Venezia; concert: „Weinviertel Symphony“, nitsch museum, Mistelbach;


† Hermann Nitsch died on April 18, 2022 in the hospital of mistelbach.

160th action: the 6-day-play (2nd extended version); exhibitions: “hermann nitsch. bayreuth walküre" nitsch museum, mistelbach; "6-day-play installation" nitsch museum, Mistelbach; "hermann nitsch. 20th painting action secession”, oficine 800, venice; „bayreuth walküre e relitti 158. Azione“, Museo Nitsch Neapel; “hermann nitsch. the 6-day-play”, nitsch foundation, wien; “hermann nitsch. die partitur des 6-tage-spiels”, galerie elisabeth & klaus thoman, innsbruck; group shows: “body images: intimacy – deconstruction – interaction”, wilhelm hack museum, ludwigshafen; “richard gerstl. inspiration – legacy”, kunsthaus zug; „Milky Way“, MSUV, Novi Sad

 Works by Hermann Nitsch are to be found in the following museums and collections (selection):
Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Collection, New York; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Museum University of Yale; tang, New York; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri; Station Museum of Contemporary Art Houston, Texas; Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Tate Gallery, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Museo Capodimonte, Naples; Galleria d’arte moderna, Bologna; Mart, Trent; Museo d’arte della città di Ravenna; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Nationalgalerie Berlin; Lenbachhaus, Munich; Nationalgalerie Munich; Museum Brandhorst, Munich; Graphische Sammlung, Munich; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; Kunsthalle Hamburg; Museum Neue Galerie, Saarbrücken; Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen; Kunstmuseum Bern; Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Albertina, Vienna; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna; Leopold Museum, Vienna; Lentos, Linz; Rupertinum, Salzburg; Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck.


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