Austin / Desmond Fine Art and Richard Saltoun Gallery announce a two-part series of Viennese art: Actionism and Feminism.
The season begins with Actionism, examining this sensational movement borne out of expressive action painting in Vienna in the late 1950s. The second, Feminism, will present the work of Valie EXPORT and Friedl Kubelka-Bondy, two artists using their body and the action of documentary photograph to subvert the traditional notion of the “great male artist”. As Actionists chose to challenge the mythology of traditional art mediums such as painting and sculpture so did these two Feminist artists choose to challenge the hierarchy of the art establishment.
This is the first major survey of Viennese Actionism in the UK. The exhibition will present the work of Gunter Brus, Otto Muhl, Hermann Nitsch, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. Virtually over by 1970, the radical movement was short-lived but rich and dense in each artist’s output. Performance works, aktions, were at the heart of their work, extending the use and meaning of painting. Blood, animal carcasses, razor blades, and ropes were all used as implements to create these aktions.
The exhibition will include vintage photographs of performances by all four artists as well as one of the original surviving stretchers used by Nitsch, rare in its survival and that he only ever performed six aktions.
This exhibition follows a recent major survey exhibition, Viennese Actionism: Art and Upheaval in 1960s Vienna at Museum Moderner Kunst Siftung Ludwig, Wien.