new-york

Günter Brus

Gasser Grunert

Although he was one of the central figures of Vienna Actionism, Günter Brus is hardly known here; this is only his second solo exhibition in the States, and the first in New York. Initially it’s surprising that the work has taken so long to arrive—the heyday of Aktionismus was, after all, more than thirty years ago. But how receptive would New York have been to so visceral, violent, and overwrought an art as that of Brus and fellow practitioners Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler? We like an art that reflects skepticism and sobriety; Clement Greenberg was not alone in his certainty that the great artists “are the hard-headed ones.” If even the benignly utopian mystique of Joseph Beuys seemed hard to swallow, what would we have made of the queasier excesses of the Viennese?

Now that all their ritual dripping of blood, semen, and other abject fluids is safely past, however,

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