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This is one of the first paintings that Nitsch made using blood in the early 1960s. ‘I took cloth, wetted it with blood as well as pouring blood over it, then I fixed it on canvas’, the artist explained. The use of blood recurs consistently in Nitsch’s work, suggesting both sacrifice and redemption. His performance art is highly ritualistic and includes animal sacrifice, the splashing of warm blood and crucifixion. Nitsch believes art to be a self-purifying ceremony not only for himself, but also for the viewer.

July 2008