Action art is an umbrella term for a number of 20th century art movements that transcended the classical forms of fine art (sculpture, painting) and expanded them to include other media and performative forms of expression. In doing so, they placed themselves in opposition to the concept of art and the art business, which is often perceived as too conventional and narrow. In Vienna, action art found its expression in the 1960s in Viennese Actionism.
Action art is a precursor of artistic performance and cannot always be clearly distinguished from it. In action art, both classical working methods of the fine arts such as painting and sculpture are used, as well as newer media such as photography, film and video. With action art, a turn towards more and more processual forms of artistic practice is taking place. The Fluxus movement (lat. flux/fluere = flowing, transient) of the 1960s, which saw itself as a flowing transition between art and life, is considered part of action art.
In action art, it is not uncommon for the artist himself to be a component of the work and his body to be the artistic medium (e.g. Wolfgang Flatz). While the separation of subject and object is a prerequisite for a classical understanding of art, in that the artist creates an artefact that is detachable from him or her, action art is about actions in which the artists are directly involved. Extreme, e.g. self-harming, actions immediately trigger affective and emotional reactions in the spectator (e.g. Marina Abramović, Zhang Huan, Lilly McElroy).