Viennese Actionism is the name given to a movement in modern art in which, from 1962 to 1970, a group of Viennese artists took up the concept of American Happening and Fluxus art and implemented it in a provocative way. The term was coined in 1969 by Peter Weibel, a close friend of the Actionists. The protagonists of this art movement were Günter Brus, Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler.
After the Second World War, a type of painting emerged that did not want to depict anything that already existed. An "art to leave art" emerged. The specialisation and ineffectiveness of modern art in the 1950s prompted many artists to take a completely different direction. By breaking taboos, the artists wanted to provoke a society that was only oriented towards consumption.
In this way, Viennese Actionism turned against repressive social conditions and consciously sought confrontation with state and church authority. On the one hand, drastic modes of expression and aggressive taboo violations were intended to depict mechanisms of open and, above all, hidden (repressed) cruelty and perversion in bourgeois society; on the other hand, they were intended to shock this very society - and they succeeded. The Vienna Actionists gained particular fame through the action Art and Revolution by Brus, Muehl and Oswald Wiener on 7 June 1968 (called "Uni-Ferkelei" by the media), which resulted in the indictment of all those involved.
After 1970, the group's artistic paths diverged. Muehl and Nitsch still sporadically made action art, but it is no longer called Viennese Actionism.
Viennese Actionism is related to the Vienna Group and other Viennese intellectuals and artists of the time, such as Valie Export, Adolf Frohner, Kurt Kren, Gerhard Rühm, Alfons Schilling, Peter Weibel, Oswald Wiener and Otmar Bauer. Viennese Actionism, however, developed in great isolation from international cultural events, as Vienna was culturally on the margins and the majority of the population reacted with horror to the radical nature of the actions.