Otto Muehl

(Mariasdorf, Österreich 1925 - 2013 Moncarapacho, Portugal)
The Austrian performance artist Otto Muehl was born on 16 July 1925 as Otto Mühl in Grodnau in Burgenland. With his startling and notorious actions, Muehl became a pioneer of Vienna Actionism. To realize his ideals, Muehl founded his own commune in 1974, which will accompany him until his death on 26 May 2013 in Portugal.
From 1948 to 1952, Muehl studied at the University of Vienna to become a teacher of German and history before starting his studies of art education at the Academy of Fine Arts from 1953 onwards. After his first solo exhibition in 1960, however, he turned away from painting and created works of art in which he slid canvases, incorporated objects and produced artworks of scrap. Together with other artists, Muehl contributed significantly to the beginning of "Viennese Actionism" through his manifesto "Die Blutorgel" in 1962. Together with Hermann Nitsch and Adolf Frohner, he had himself mured in his studio for three days. Being aversed to bourgeois society, artists like Muehl, Nitsch and Günter Brus wanted to break the traditional concept of art with disturbing and radical body actions. In 1966 Muehl created a new type of action with Brus, which was centered around the body. Muehl participated in a variety of performances, including the 1968 "Art and Revolution" campaign and the slaughter of a pig and its blood-filled art with Nitsch in 1969. To delineate his art from the "Happening Art" Muehl founded the commune "Aktionsanalytische Organization" (AAO), which was inspired by Wilhelm Reich, and later the Friedrichshof Commune in 1974, which ran its own school, various workshops and agriculture. At its peak in 1983, the commune comprises 600 members. Although the commune is founded on principles such as sexual freedom, Community ownership, the abolition of the small family and the further development of art performances, the project fails because of authoritarian leadership. Muehl creates a variety of paintings and drawings, which, however, are not exhibited outside the commune. After being convicted in 1991 based on different moral codes, he is sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. During his imprisonment he created around 300 pictures. After his release he moved to Portugal, where he lived until his death in 2013 in an "Art & Life Family" commune.

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Works

Exhibitions

Body Extended
30. October - 07. December 2019
Frieze Masters London 2019
2. - 06. October 2019
Frieze Masters London 2018
4. - 07. October 2018

Publications

It's a matter of body
From Vienna Modernism to Vienna Actionism