Viennese actionism: total art and the social unconscious

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis



  • Download PDF

    Rights statement: This work is protected by Copyright. You may print or download ONE copy of this document for the purpose of your own non-commercial research or study. Any other use requires permission from the copyright owner. The Copyright Act requires you to attribute any copyright works you quote or paraphrase.

    8 MB, PDF-document


Research units


In a decade spanning from 1960 to 1971 four Viennese artists Otto Muehl, Günter Brus, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler executed a prolific number of live actions that caused tremendous public antipathy, authority intervention, imprisonment and scandal. Their art had strong overtones of taboo breaking, ritualised dramaturgy and an array of transgressive performative experiments that aspired to self-liberation from the conventional confines imposed by their society. It was conceived as a brutal reaction against the dominant ideology of Catholicism, right wing social conservatism, bourgeois convention and generally against the sublimated social climate that dominated Austria in the postwar period. This thesis will scrutinise the history of misconceptions associated with Actionism, and focus its analysis of the art around the intentions of the artists and their sense of engaging with avant-garde art at the time.
Original languageEnglish
StateUnpublished - 2010

View connections

ID: 3226008