Günter Brus is a co-founder and one of the most radical exponents of the body art movement, which merged with Vienna Actionism and was oriented towards the essentials of American Happening and Fluxus art. Brus put his own body, as medium and object, at the centre of his art. The focus is on the confrontation with state and church authorities, which takes the form of drastic and aggressive artistic expression and breaches of taboo. One of the most famous actions, Kunst und Revolution, which was carried out by Brus, Otto Muehl and Oswald Wiener on 7 June 1968, led to criminal charges being filed.
On 6 July 1965, Brus took his actions into the public sphere for the first time with Wiener Spaziergang, which passers-by found disturbing, shocking and amusing. His entire body was painted white, with a black line stretching from head to toe. Like a living painting, he walked out of the Galerie Junge Generation and through the streets of Vienna as part of an exhibition opening.
“The day before this exhibition opening, which included action and discussion, I decided to avoid the compromise character of this undertaking to a certain extent, in order to give my artistic intentions more clarity. One could say that the hermaphroditic activity of this gallery drove me from the rat cellars onto the street. I decided to take a walk as a quasi-living picture through Vienna’s city centre, past several historically significant buildings. I started my walk in Heldenplatz square. Going through the Burgtor gate, past the Spanish Riding School and the Dorotheum, my route was to lead to Stephansplatz. I didn’t inform myself about what was supposed to happen there, rightly suspecting that before long the watchful eye of one of the guardians of public order would see the living painting and arrest it. This took place at the corner of Bräunerstrasse and Stallburggasse. An officer led me, to the amusement of passers-by, to a nearby police station. My particulars were taken and then they sent for a taxi” (Günter Brus, 1989).1
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