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‘Enfant terrible’ of art Nitsch dies, 83

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A couple look at Hermann Nitsch’s painting Station of The Cross as part of the ‘The Beginning’ exhibition at the reopened Albertina Modern art museum in Vienna. AFP

‘Enfant terrible’ of art Nitsch dies, 83

Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch, famous for his paintings and performances using animal blood and carcasses, has died at age 83, his family said on Tuesday.

Nitsch died at a hospital in Lower Austria province on Monday, his niece told AFP.

“Hermann Nitsch died peacefully at the age of 83 after a serious illness,” a statement from the family said.

Nitsch was part of the “Actionists”, a radical 1960s avant-garde movement known for skinning animal carcasses, tying up human bodies and using blood, mud and urine in their works.

“Austria mourns the loss of a fascinating painter and an impressive person,” Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen posted on Twitter, adding Nitsch “redefined” the country’s art scene.

The Austrian enfant terrible was best known for his long-running Orgies Mysteries Theatre, a performance-based show representing slaughters and religious sacrifices.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Austrian artist Herman Nitsch poses by an image of himself superimposed on a fresco at Casoria Contemporary Art Museum near Naples. AFP

“In my conceptions of being, there is everything, life, death, illness, pain, aggression... Through my work, I want to show all of this,” Nitsch said in 2011 in response to criticism that dogged him throughout his career.

Nitsch’s more recent shows included an exhibition in Sicily, Italy, in 2015, which featured dead animals on crucifixes, and led to animal rights groups to accuse him of blasphemy and inciting violence.

His wife Rita Nitsch told AFP at the time “that this kind of small ruckus is always part of (his work)... But quality has triumphed over the polemic.”

Nitsch has two museums devoted to his work in Austria and one in Italy.

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