1938 born in Vienna.
1948-56 After finishing school, he attended the Vienna Higher College for Graphic Art in Vienna. Intensive occupation with literature, art and philosophy.
1957 he became assistant at the Technical Museum, Vienna. Some years later here the first paint actions were launched. Idea for the Orgien Mysterien Theater (Orgies Mysteries Theater), a six-days festival. The Orgies Mysteries Theater is a new all-embracing art form. Real events are staged. All five senses of the participants are addressed directly.
1961 Finalization of the 1st abreaction act (scream an noise action, eviscerating of lamb, disruption of lamb). Action painting is related to the laceration of lamb. Action painting as prestage to actions with meat.
1962 Blutorgel is a joint manifesto, together with Adolf Frohner and Otto Mühl. It is said to mark the actual beginning of Viennaer Aktionismus (Vienna Actionism).
1963 Nitsch executes the first public event at Galerie Dvorak in Vienna. Color, blood, slaughtered lamb and music are the material fort he 2nd action. Nitsch calls the 3rd public action festival of phsycophysical naturalism. The event is stopped by the police. Nitsch faced prosecution and court fines until 1966.
1966 Nitsch executes the 20th action at the „Destruction in Art Symposium“ (DIAS), London. It is the biggest convention of international experimental artists in London; DIAS thus creates the worldwide foundation for socially committed art, being internationally expressed for the time in this context.
1967 he leaves Austria in order to implement his work mainly in the USA and in Germany until 1977.
1968 Jonas Mekas invited him in New York and Cincinnati, where four actions were staged. Marriage with Beate König.
1970 7th abreaction act. A two-hour action in Munich, rated as one of Nitsch’s «wildest and most intense actions».
1971 he buys Schloss Prinzendorf a.d. Zaya in Lower Austria, a palace formerly owned by the curch. Hermann Nitsch has lived and worked at Schloss Prinzendorf since then. Here Nitsch launches his Orgies Mysteries Theater, turning the location into his very own Bayreuth.
Nitsch composed the tragedy die eroberung von jerusalem (Conquest of Gerusalem). The drama is accompanied by a large-scale ballpoint pen drawing.
Since 1971 repeated teaching activity at the Academy for Fine Arts (Städelschule) in Frankfurt, where Nitsch holds a professorship for interdisciplinary art from 1989 until 2003.
1972 staging of a 12-hours action at the Mercer Arts Center, New York. This action is expanded into a festival. Partecipation at documenta V, Kassel.
1973 Whitsun festival at Prinzendorf. This festival became tradition and takes place almost annually for friends of the Orgies Mysteries Theater. Staging of the 41st action. Foundation of the «Vereins zur Förderung des Orgien Mysterien Theaters» (Association for the promotion of the Orgies Mysteries Theater).
1974 staging for the 50th action (24 hours, day one and night one of the 6-day play) at Schloss Prinzendorf.
1977 his wife Beate König is killed in a car accident.
1982 partecipation at documenta VII, Kassel.
1984 staging of the 80th action (3-day play) at Schloss Prinzendorf. Start of portfolio work for architecture of orgies mysteries theater.
1985 he met Rita Leitenbor and lives together with her from 1986.
1987 Staging of the 20th painting action at Secession, Vienna.
1988 married Rita Leitenbor.
Since 1989 Hermann Nitsch has held regular painting classes at the Salzburg Summer Academy.
1990 staging of the 8th simphony at the Museum for Applied Art, Vienna; teaching action at Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen.
1995 Vienna Staatsoper commissions Hermann Nitsch with the setting for «Hérodiade», an opera by Jules Massenet and to collaborate in the staging.
1996 staging the 38th painting action at the Schömer-Haus, Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg.
1997 staging the 40th painting action at the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna.
1998 From August the 3rd to 9th: first total staging of the 6-day play of the Orgies Mysteries Theater at Schloss Prinzendorf.
2001 Total setting of «Satyagraha» - opera by Philipp Glass at Festspielhaus St. Pölten.
2003 Retrospective at Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg.
2004 2-day play at Prinzendorf. Winner of the Lower Austrian Cultural Award 2004.
2005 staging of the 122nd action of Orgies Mysteries Theater at Burgtheater, Vienna November 19th 2005. Awarded the Austrian National Prize.
2006 Asolo film award
2007 Inauguration of the Hermann-Nitsch-Museum in Mistelbach near Prinzendorf with focus on painting. Inauguration of the Hermann Nitsch Museums in Naples with on relics, photographic and musical archive and permanent exhibition of the Orgies Mysteries Theater are planned for 2008.
Exhibitions, actions, concerts and lectures in:
Bregenz, Graz, Innsbruck, Krems/Stein, Klagenfurt, Linz, Salzburg; Vienna; Augsburg, Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Darmstadt, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Hildesheim, Kassel, Cologne, Krefeld, Leipzig, Lübeck, Mainz, Mönchengladbach, Munich, Passau, Regensburg, Rosenheim, Speyer, Stuttgart, Tubingen, Wiesbaden; Basel, Bern, Winterthur, Zurich; Vaduz; Bergamo, Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Merano, Modena, Napoli, Padova, Palermo, Ravenna, Rome, Sorrento, Lecce, Trento, Torino, Verona; London; Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Oiron, Rouen/Caen; Ljubljana, Piran; Prague; Bratislava; Budapest; Torun, Krakow; Tirana; Luxembourg; Gent, Brüssel; Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca; Lisbon; Amsterdam, Arnheim, Eindhoven, Den Haag, St. Jost Breda; Copenhagen; Gotheburg, Stockholm; Los Angeles, New York, Binghampton, Cincinatti, Chicago, El Paso, Ridgefield, Taos; Rio de Janeiro; Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax; Sydney, Melbourne; Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing.
Works by Hermann Nitsch can be found a.o. at the following museums and collections:
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunstmuseum Bern; Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düssesldorf; Stedelijk Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven; Kunsthalle Hamburg; Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck; Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg; Museum Ludwig, Köln; Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz; Tate Gallery, London; Walker Art Center, Mineapolis; Nationalgalerie München; Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, München; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, München; Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Rupertinum, Salzburg; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Saatchi Collection, London; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary, New York; Art; Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, New York.
Single exhibitions (Selected)
Comprehensive bibliographies have been published in the numerous publications on Hermann Nitsch’s work. We would like to refer to the comprehensive bibliography on the Hermann Nitsch homepage www.nitsch.org.