April 4, 2015 - Theatermuseum - ExistenzFest: Hermann Nitsch and the Theater
April 4, 2015

ExistenzFest: Hermann Nitsch and the Theater

Hermann Nitsch, 5. Aktion, 1964. © museum
moderner kunst stiftung ludwig wien. Photo:
Peter Jurkowitsch.

Hermann Nitsch and the Theater

March 26, 2015–January 11, 2016

Palais Lobkowitz
Lobkowitzplatz 2
1010 Vienna
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 10am–6pm


February 4–May 16, 2016

Museum Villa Stuck
Prinzregentenstraße 60
81675 Munich
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–6pm,
First Friday of the month 11am–10pm


Ever since the beginnings of his complex opus in 1957, varying between painting and theatre, Hermann Nitsch occupies a central position in the history of visionary, expanded notion of art concepts. The centre of his work is the realisation of the o.m. theater (Orgies Mysteries Theater), a dramatic epic of six days and nights. An existential flush and cathartic realisation are the effect of this partaking, dramatic and meditative art. The multi-media exhibition, curated by Hubert Klocker, emphasizes especially on communicating the dramatic and performative nucleus of Hermann Nitsch’s opus.

Central aim of both the present exhibition project and its publication, developed by the Theatermuseum in Vienna in close collaboration with the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich is to explicitly examine the dramatic core, the scenic qualities and the contextualisation of the o.m. theater within theatre history and thus to allow an expanded and comprehensive view of Nitsch’s work.

Film and audio material, a video installation, especially created by Hermann Nitsch for the present exhibit with the topic of synaesthetics, as well as the presentation of the Stiertrage (bull‘s barrow), used for the first time in the Six-Day Play in 1998, amplify the event character of the show and refer to the central role of the immediate experience of Hermann Nitsch‘s art.

Hermann Nitsch has been working on the theory and realisation of his o.m. theater (Orgies Mysteries Theater) ever since 1957. It is a dramatic epic, for the complete execution of which the artist has designed special, “extraterritorial” architecture and a performance area, centred on his place of residence and work, Schloss Prinzendorf. From 1963 onwards he has been presenting central elements of the play, arranged as a six-day Celebration of Existence in the form of numerous actions as well as in many different spaces.

In 1998 a complete version of the six day-and-night play was realised for the first time. Ever since Hermann Nitsch‘s opus occupies a central position in the history of visionary, expanded notion of art concepts ranging from Monet to Turell, from Skriabin to Artaud, from The Living Theater to Schlingensief.

From the mid-1960s his actions gained attention not only in the field of visual art, but at the same time also as part of the performance scene. This also illustrates how the language of form and aesthetics in the theory and practice of Nitsch‘s theatre also provided a suitable basis for stage performances, to which he subsequently was invited as director from the 1990s onwards. Nitsch achieved impressive successes at the Staatsoper in Vienna, the Opernhaus Zürich, the Burgtheater in Vienna and recently at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

As an artist of the first Austrian post-war avant-garde and of Viennese Actionism, Hermann Nitsch has made a powerful and, to this day, controversial contribution not only to the process of redefining the position of contemporary art, but also to many fundamental discussions relating to the development of an open, liberal social and cultural-political atmosphere in the Second Republic in Austria. 

The exhibition is a co-production of the Theatermuseum in Vienna (March 26, 2015 to January 11, 2016), and the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (February 4 to May 16, 2016).

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual (German/English) catalogue, published by Hatje Cantz.

ExistenzFest: Hermann Nitsch and the Theater at Theatermuseum
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