As early as 1966, Vienna Actionism received critical international recognition. At the core, the movement was shaped by the need to free itself from the traditions of painting.
While each Actionist found his own independent form of expression, the group’s actions became a continuation of pictorial thinking manifested in real time and space. Use of the body as both surface and site of art-making was a common point of origin for the Actionists in their earliest departures from conventional art practices in the early 1960s. The camera, too, became an essential tool for capturing these events in strictly conceived formal compositions, challenging the content of pictorial expression and foreshadowing the concept of staged photography in a larger performative paradigm, developed thereafter in 1970s conceptual and performance art.
Rite of Passage. The Early Years of Vienna Actionism, 1960 – 1966 brings together a representative survey of the early and formative years of Vienna Actionism. Including a unique and rare selection of early vintage prints and original contact sheets, as well as paintings and collages, the catalogue features some of the most significant works still in private hands.