Hermann Nitsch

Mike Weiss Gallery

There are many paths to ecstasy. Some, pace Blake, lead down the road of excess, while others go the way of asceticism. The relationship between heightened states of mind and the process of artmaking has always been close, with the construction of icons, their erasure, and the hard contemplation of color serving as perennial avenues to revelation.

The latest evidence of a nascent trend in the art world toward gnomic, incantatory, and psychedelic ways of creating—alongside the rekindled interest in elder visionaries such as Joan Jonas and Charlemagne Palestine can be seen the generally mystical disposition of many younger artists these days—was a new show by Hermann Nitsch, one of the arch-progenitors of Viennese Actionism, whose gory practice, which now spans forty years, is perhaps only distantly related to that of his American peers but, at the same time, cosmically filial.

In his first

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