Hermann Nitsch painiting - €32,000 (£27,825) at Ressler.

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His art and dramatic performances which he described as mystery orgy theatre were often the cause of controversy. He often combined religious motifs with ritualised violence, sometimes incorporating animal blood in considerable quantities, managing to offend the sensibilities of the Catholic church, animal rights activists and many more besides.

Nevertheless, Nitsch exhibited at major museums around the world and produced operas at some of the world’s most renowned houses. His works were also present at British and European auctions and - very rarely - at sales in New York and Hong Kong.

Performance art

The sale held by Ressler (21% buyer’s premium) on September 26 in Vienna showed that he still also has a strong market in his home country.

Two paintings were particularly sought after: the first was a 2ft 11in x 3ft 3in (90cm x 1m) canvas, which was created with oil paint and blood during a performance on March 15, 1987. It brought €32,000 (£27,825), almost double the estimate.

There was even more interest for a so-called Schüttbild (poured painting) from the previous year. For this 3ft 5in x 2ft 5in (1.05m x 80cm) canvas Nitsch just used oil and fingerpainting.

This was more to the bidders’ taste: the price rose from €15,000 to €55,000 (£47,825).