Tag Archives: art

RIP Hermann Nitsch (1938 – 2022)

Concrete Flesh concert with projection of Hermann Nitsch”

Hermann Nitsch was an Austrian artist who is known for his transgressive performance art.

His seven minute short “Maria-Conception-Action: Hermann Nitsch” (1969) illustrates how the past is a foreign country.

The performance is a combination of a sadomasochistic performance, artsploitation and carnography.

A typical scene from Herman Nitsch’s happenings featured cruelty, sexuality, blood and violence.

In the “Maria-Conception-Action: Hermann Nitsch” a young women is crucified and defiled with a disemboweled lamb carcass.

That film is not featured on YouTube but it can be faintly seen on footage of a concert by the band Concrete Flesh.

The closest I ever came to witnessing a spectacle like this is, is seeing Tier Mon (1988) by La Fura dels Baus in Antwerp when I was 23. And then there was Abattoir Fermé, the Belgian theater group whose aesthetics sometimes flirt somewhat with that of Nitsch.

Grotesques in Antwerp

The Antwerp Plantin-Moretus Museum currently hosts Grotesques. A fascinating fantasy world.

Highlights include four of the Pourtraicture ingenieuse de plusieurs façon de Masques by Cornelis Floris de Vriendt and two prints of caricatures by Philippe de Soye and Hans Liefrinck I after Leonardo da Vinci.

Some photographic impressions can be found below.

See also: Flemish fantastique and grotesque

‘The Way Things Go’ is World Art Classic #463


The Way Things Go by Peter Fischli & David Weiss is World Art Classic #463.

Peter Fischli & David Weiss’s work is unclassifiable. Which is a good thing. Yet despite this quality of being genre-defying, their work is defined by playfulness and humor absent from 90% of contemporary art.

I rather enjoy wit and humor in art.

The absence thereof, seriousness, is, in my view, one of the faultlines in 20th century art. Modernism, for example, was reigned by a detrimental “cult of seriousness”.

I first realized my predilection for humor in art somewhere around 2006, when I saw the painting ‘Man weeping, his tears form a waterfall‘.

The humor of Peter Fischli & David Weiss reminds me obliquely of that of The Chapman Brothers, minus the Chapman’s fondness for painfullness.

I’ve recently canonized Fischli and Weiss.

As I said in the title of this post, The Way Things Go is ‘World Art Classic’ #463. Its alphabetical neighbors are The Unswept Floor, a second century AD mosaic and The Witch by Salvator Rosa.

World Art Classic #462

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the work and person of Marina Abramović, but yesterday, while leafing through a book titled Love I stumbled upon a photo of Rest Energy, a 1980 performance piece by Marina and Ulay.

I was immediately taken by it.

I’d seen it before, but had forgotten about it.

I do think it works better as a photo than as a film.

It is World Art Classic #193.