For Actionism, the artistic object is no longer important, and it is the very body that is transformed into a means of expression with such novel characteristics as its inability to last in time and the impossibility of collecting this type of Art. It shares ideologies with movements such as Fluxus, Body Art and Performance Art, although Actionists do not consider themselves members of any organized current. They see themselves as independent artists who coincide in the same epoch and at the same time.
Actionism originated in Vienna in the 1960s as a reaction to institutionalized Art. The idea was to break rules and the moral base of established culture at that time, so public stagings with a transgresssive tendency were designed, almost always violent and with notable sexual content, and usually landed their protagonists in jail. The use of live animals in pseudo religious rituals also brought them hostility from defenders of decency and animal protection societies.
It was in 1966 when Austrian Actionists such as Hermann Nitsch, Günter Brus, Rudolf Schwarzkogler and Otto Mühl gained international renown by participating in the First Destruction in Art Symposium that was held that year in London. From that time on Viennese Actionism remained in the sights of international art critics, generating intense debates about the limits of Art.
Fifty years later, all of the artists who had been members of this movement had embarked on radically different paths, although they left behind undoubtedly interesting traces for the analysis of the most unconventional aspects of contemporary Art.