Günter Brus (born 27 September 1938, Ardning, Styria, Austria) is an Austrian painter, performance artist, graphic artist, experimental filmmaker and writer.
Brus was a co-founder in 1964 of Viennese Actionism (German: Wiener Aktionismus with Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. His aggressively presented actionism intentionally disregarded conventions and taboos, with the intent of shocking the viewer. Sentenced to 6 months in prison after the Kunst und Revolution event at the University of Vienna in 1968, he fled to Berlin with his family and returned to Austria in 1976. Brus urinated into a glass then proceeded to cover his body in his own excrement, and ended the piece by drinking his own urine. During the performance Brus also sang the Austrian National Anthem while masturbating. Brus ended the piece by vomiting and was subsequently arrested. Through this piece and his other performance works, Brus hoped to reveal the still fascist essence of the nation. Brus also was editor of the Schastrommel (author's edition) from 1969 on. He was involved into the NO!Art movement. In 1966 he was with Gustav Metzger, Otto Muehl, Wolf Vostell, Yoko Ono and others a participant of the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) in London.
Brus was awarded the Grand Austrian State Prize in 1997. Most of his works are shocking and controversial. The Joanneum now houses a permanent gallery, called the Bruseum, featuring the work of Brus and fellow Viennese Actionists.
In 2010, Berlin-based art film home video company Edition Kröthenhayn released a boxset including a DVD containing his films (including, inter alia, 8/64: Ana – Aktion Brus, 10c/65: Brus wünscht euch seine Weihnachten, 10b/65: Silber – Aktion Brus, 10/65: Selbstverstümmelung, 16/67: 20. September, Die Blumen des Bösen, Strangulation, Psycho-Dramolett, Kunst und Revolution, Osmose, Einatmen – Ausatmen, Handlung, Zerreißprobe, Selbstbemalung, and Wiener Spaziergang), directed by, among others, Kurt Kren, Hans Christof Stenzel, Peter Gorsen, Ernst Schmidt Jr., Helmut Kronberger, Werner Schulz, Otto Muehl, as well as by Brus himself and his wife Anni Brus, compiled and presented in a documentary format by Peter Kasperak, with a total running length of 82 minutes in a limited edition of a thousand hand-numbered copies under the title Körperanalysen: Aktionen 1964–1970. The DVD further features a 2004 52-minutes television documentary film about Brus called Schrecklich verletzlich – Günter Brus directed by Peter Kasperak, Anita Natmessnig, and Adam Wallisch as well as many slide shows of Actionism photography by Ludwig Hoffenreich and others. The boxset also sports a 100-pages book with photos and texts by Peter Weibel and Theo Altenberg.
Actionism is the English version of the general German term for performance art, specifically used for Vienna-based group Wiener Aktionismus …