Günter Brus

Born 1938 in Ardning, Austria. Died 2024 in Graz, Austria



Born 1938 in Ardning, Austria

Died 2024 in Graz, Austria

Günter Brus is considered a key figure in Austrian art history. It was above all through his actions that he shaped the national and international art landscape of the late 20th century. As a co-founder of Viennese Actionism (Wiener Aktionismus), Brus was concerned with a form of art that went beyond painting. The return of art to the body as a material played a major role in his work. In this context, his first self-painting (Selbstbemalung) took place in 1964. After the further development of his practice of painting, which first took place on the canvas and then on the body, finally, the body alone was the intention and event of his art. His transgressive actions teased against the social conventions of the time. When he performed his body analysis at the “Art and Revolution” event of the Vienna Actionism group at Vienna University in 1968, a prison sentence of 6 months followed. In the course of this, he went into exile to Berlin with his family. In the 1970s, Brus turned increasingly to the medium of drawing, creating an extensive oeuvre. The body remains an important subject for Brus and becomes the main motif of his drawings. Writing is also a significant part of his artistic work, especially the interrelation of text and image. When his prison sentence was commuted into a fine in the late 1970s, Brus returned to Austria. Over the years, many awards and recognitions of his oeuvre followed. In 1997 he received the Great Austrian State Prize. Today he lives and works in Vienna, Santiago and La Gomera.  

Günter Brus participated in the Documenta shows 5 (1972), 6 (1977) and 7 (1982). Such renowned museums as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1993), the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the London Tate Gallery, the Munich Lenbachhaus and the New York Museum of Modern Art present his works. In honor of Brus’ artistic work, his own exhibition venue, BRUSEUM, opened within the Museum Joanneum, Neue Galerie Graz in 2011. In addition to his solo exhibition in 2010, Günter Brus participated in several group shows at Galerie Krinzinger. Most recent solo shows include exhibitions at Galerie Heike Curtze in Vienna, Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin (2016) and 21er Haus in Vienna (2018) and Joanneum in Graz.