Contemporaneous Extension

Hermann Nitsch: extension 1

My coverage of Hermann Nitsch’s first painting action in the United States at Mike Weiss Gallery is only just beginning. A small history lesson and some pictures are up on Hyperallergic right now, and my full review will be up tomorrow. Just because I had so many, I wanted to post some extra imagery for your digestion.

This was the first set of canvases to be worked on continuously. Nitsch’s color choices are deliberate, multi-dimensional. The rich earth tones and their cohesion in general on the underbelly of this piece were very misleading.

Still the first canvas. After throwing approximately fifteen measuring-cups worth of paint onto five large canvases, Nitsch instructed his assistants to walk in a straight line down the center of the canvases. Following Giuseppe, an assistant of Nitsch’s for some time, the assistants did several rounds of marching across the slumping swamp of paint. They would eventually walk another two sets of marches all together: one on the left side of the center line, and one on the right side.

A close up of the swirl of paint on the second grouping of pieces Nitsch worked on. The swirling was almost geological, slinking into the recesses of the sinking material.

Two assistants take the far wall canvases into the hallway of the gallery. The first two sets dry in place, the action continues.

In the alcove in the foyer of Mike Weiss Gallery there were three large canvases with three smaller canvases stacked upon one another at both ends. Here, Nitsch takes a second to absorb the first drops of pigment.

Nitsch and Giuseppe in the far gallery.

Leftover gloves and red paint were like landmines in the far gallery. Also a peek into Nitsch’s toolkit: a dry brush, two tupperwares for pouring paint on pristine canvases, and even a stirring stick (also used to spank several canvases dripping with pigment)

Hermann Nitsch, 2011. The foyer alcove set of canvases.

Nitsch splatters excess paint onto Giuseppe’s painting cloak. The smocks are explicit relics of Nitsch’s ritual and are often included in the exhibition with the paintings themselves. They are the epitome of the undirected emotion, the instinctual choices.

A close up of a worked up, finessed canvas in the far gallery.

The canvases at the end of the far gallery are reworked and transformed by the assistants per Nitsch’s instructions. The application of thick sunshine was utterly satisfying and the last portion of the First Day’s work.


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