Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (December 15, 1928 – February 19, 2000) was an Austrian artist (who later took on New Zealand citizenship). Born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna, he became one of the best-known contemporary Austrian artists, although controversial, by the end of the 20th century.
The Second World War was a difficult time for Hundertwasser and his mother Elsa, who was Jewish. They avoided persecution by posing as Christians, a credible ruse as Hundertwasser's father had been a Catholic. To remain inconspicuous Hundertwasser joined the Hitler Youth.
Hundertwasser developed artistic skills early on. After the war, he spent three months at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. At this time he began to sign his art as Hundertwasser instead of Stowasser. He left to travel using a small set of paints he carried at all times to sketch anything that caught his eye. In Florence he met the young French painter René Brô for the first time and they became lifelong friends. Hundertwasser's first commercial painting success was in 1952-3 with an exhibition in Vienna.
Hundertwasser (left) 1965 in Hanover
His adopted surname is based on the translation of "sto" (the Slavic word for "(one) hundred") into German. The name Friedensreich has a double meaning as "Peaceland" or "Peace-rich" (in the sense of "peaceful"). The other names he chose for himself, Regentag and Dunkelbunt, translate to "Rainy day" and "Darkly multi-coloured". Therefore his name Friedensreich Hundertwasser translates directly into English as "Peace-Kingdom Hundred-Water".
Hundertwasser married Herta Leitner in 1958 but they divorced two years later. He married again in 1962 to the Japanese artist Yuko Ikewada but she divorced him in 1966. He had gained a popular reputation by this time for his art.
Beginning in the early 1950's, he entered the field of architecture. Hundertwasser also worked in the field of applied art, creating flags, stamps, coins, and posters. His most famous flag is the Koru Flag, as well as several postage stamps for the Austrian Post Office. He also designed stamps for Cape Verde and for the United Nations postal administration in Geneva on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Hundertwasser was buried in New Zealand after his death at sea on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2000 at the age of 71.
Hundertwasser manifesto, 1958
As a result of his experiences as a persecuted by the Nazi regime Hundertwasser developed an anti-totalitarian position early on. He was likely raised by his mother in the popular sense of imperial nostalgia, which was popular in the interwar period. His early fears of the square marching battalions associated with dictatorships may have led him to oppose any "geometrization" of people and their architecture. In a letter from 1954 Hundertwasser described the square as "geometric rectangles compressed columns on the march". In 1959 Hundertwasser got involved with helping the Dalai Lama escape from Tibet by campaigning for the Tibetan religious leader in Carl Laszlo's magazine Panderma. In later years, when he was already a known artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser became an environmental activist and most recently operated as a more prominent opponent of the European Union, advocating the preservation of regional peculiarities. Among the lesser known facets of Hundertwasser's personality is his commitment to constitutional monarchy:
Austria needs a parent center, consisting of perennial higher values - the one no longer dares to speak - like beauty, culture, internal and external peace, faith, abundance of the heart [...] Austria needs an emperor, who is subservient to the people. A parent and radiant size to which all have confidence, because this size is in possession of all. While the rationalist way of thinking has given us in this century, an ephemeral (short-lived Ed.) higher American standard of living at the expense of nature and creation, which has now come to an end, but our heart, our quality of life destroyed, our desires, without which an Austrian does not want to live. It is outrageous that Austria has an emperor who did no evil to anyone, but is still treated like a leper. Austria needs a crown! Long live Austria! Long live the constitutional monarchy! Long live Otto von Habsburg ! - Friedensreich Hundertwasser: In support of the return of constitutional monarchy. Kaurinui, New Zealand , 28 March 1983. On 14 May 1987, Otto von Habsburg on his 75th day.
Artistic style and themes
Hundertwasser's Koru Flag, proposal for a new New Zealand national flag based on a Maori motif
Hundertwasser's original and unruly artistic vision expressed itself in pictorial art, environmentalism, philosophy, and design of facades, postage stamps, flags, and clothing (among other areas). The common themes in his work utilised bright colours, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism, rejecting straight lines.
He remains sui generis, although his architectural work is comparable to Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in its use of biomorphic forms and the use of tile. He was also inspired by the art of the Vienna Secession, and by the Austrian painters Egon Schiele (1890–1918) and Gustav Klimt (1862–1918).
He was fascinated by spirals, and called straight lines "the devil's tools". He called his theory of art "transautomatism", based on Surrealist automatism, but focusing on the experience of the viewer, rather than the artist. This was encapsulated by his design of a new flag for New Zealand, which incorporated the image of the Koru a spiral shape based on the image of a new unfurling silver fern frond and symbolizing new life, growth, strength and peace according to the Māori people.
A typical Hundertwasser facade: the Hundertwasserhaus in Plochingen
Although Hundertwasser first achieved notoriety for his boldly-coloured paintings, he is more widely known for his individual architectural designs. These designs use irregular forms, and incorporate natural features of the landscape. The Hundertwasserhaus apartment block in Vienna has undulating floors ("an uneven floor is a melody to the feet"), a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows. He took no payment for the design of Hundertwasserhaus, declaring that the investment was worth it to "prevent something ugly from going up in its place".
From the early 1950s he increasingly focused on architecture, advocating more just human and environmental friendly buildings. This began with manifestos, essays and demonstrations. For example, he read out his "Mouldiness Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture" in 1958 on the occasion of an art and architectural event held at the Seckau Monastery. He rejected the straight line and the functional architecture. In Munich in 1967 he gave a lecture called "Speech in Nude for the Right to a Third Skin". His lecture "Loose from Loos, A Law Permitting Individual Buildings Alterations or Architecture-Boycott Manifesto", was given at the Concordia Press Club in Vienna in 1968.
In the Mouldiness Manifesto he first claimed the "Window Right": "A person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm's reach. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm's reach. So that it will be visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardised man who lives next door." In his nude speeches of 1967 and 1968 Hundertwasser condemned the enslavement of humans by the sterile grid system of conventional architecture and by the output of mechanised industrial production. He rejected rationalism, the straight line and functional architecture.
For Hundertwasser, human misery was a result of the rational, sterile, monotonous architecture, built following the tradition of the Austrian architect Adolf Loos, author of the modernist manifesto Ornament and crime (1908). He called for a boycott of this type of architecture, and demanded instead creative freedom of building, and the right to create individual structures. In 1972 he published the manifesto Your window right — your tree duty. Planting trees in an urban environment was to become obligatory: "If man walks in nature's midst, then he is nature's guest and must learn to behave as a well-brought-up guest." Hundertwasser propagated a type of architecture in harmony with nature is his ecological commitment. He campaigned for the preservation of the natural habitat and demanded a life in accordance with the laws of nature. He wrote numerous manifestos, lectured and designed posters in favor of nature protection, including against nuclear power, to save the oceans and the whales and to protect the rain forest. He was also an advocate of composting toilets and the principle of constructed wetland. He perceived feces not as nauseous but as part of the cycle of nature. His beliefs are testified by his manifesto The Holy Shit and his DIY guide for building a composting toilet.
In the 1970s, Hundertwasser had his first architectural models built. The models for the Eurovision TV-show "Wünsch Dir was" (Make a Wish) in 1972 exemplified his ideas on forested roofs, tree tenants and the window right. In these and similar models he developed new architectural shapes, such as the spiral house, the eye-slit house, the terrace house and the high-rise meadow house. In 1974, Peter Manhardt made models for him of the pit house, the grass roof house and the green service station – along with his idea of the invisible, inaudible Green Motorway.
In the early 1980s Hundertwasser remodelled the Rosenthal Factory in Selb, and the Mierka Grain Silo in Krems. These projects gave him the opportunity to act as what he called an "architecture doctor".
In architectural projects that followed he implemented window right and tree tenants, uneven floors, woods on the roof, and spontaneous vegetation. Works of this period include: housing complexes in Germany; a church in Bärnbach, Austria; a district heating plant in Vienna; an incineration plant and sludge centre in Osaka, Japan; a railway station in Uelzen; a winery in Napa Valley; and a public toilet in Kawakawa.
In 1999 Hundertwasser started his last project named Die Grüne Zitadelle von Magdeburg. Although he never finished this work completely, the building was built a few years later in Magdeburg, a town in eastern Germany, and opened on October 3, 2005.
Buildings Main article: List of buildings by Friedensreich Hundertwasser
- Hundertwasser House, Vienna, Austria
- District Heating Plant, Spittelau, Vienna, Austria
- Hundertwasserhaus Waldspirale, Darmstadt, Germany
- KunstHausWien, Vienna, Austria
- Kindergarten Heddernheim, Frankfurt
- Motorway Restaurant, Bad Fischau-Brunn, Austria
- Hot Springs Village, Bad Blumau, Styria, Austria
- Hundertwasserkirche, Bärnbach, Styria, Austria
- Markthalle, Altenrhein, Switzerland
- Wohnen unterm Regenturm, Plochingen, Germany
- Quixote Winery, Napa Valley, (USA), 1988-1998 (his only building in the US)
- Maishima Incineration Plant, Osaka (Japan), 1997–2000
- Public toilets, Kawakawa (New Zealand), 1999
- Hundertwasser "environmental railway station", Uelzen (Germany), 1999–2001
- Die Grüne Zitadelle von Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany, 2003–2005
- Ronald McDonald Kinder Vallei, Valkenburg aan de Geul, The Netherlands
- Kuchlbauer-Turm, Abensberg, Germany, 2008–2010
An art gallery featuring Hundertwasser's work will be established in a council building in Whangarei, New Zealand, and will bring to fruition his 1993 plans for improving the building.
Grüne Zitadelle in Magdeburg, Germany
Quixote Winery in Napa Valley
Hundertwasser façade in Plochingen, Germany
House Waldspirale in Darmstadt
Thermal power plant in Vienna
Residential building at Bad Soden am Taunus (suburban Frankfurt, Germany)
Raststätte Bad Fischau at A2 (Southern Motorway), Austria
Roof garden of a Kindergarten in Frankfurt-Heddernheim
Quixote Winery entrance in Napa Valley
Public toilets Kawakawa, New Zealand
Hot springs, Bad Blumau (Austria)
Furoshiki by Hundertwasser.
- 1959 Kaaba-League of legends, die halbe Insel, Hamburg Collection Poppe
- 1954 Hundertwasser develops the Transautomatism art theory.
The extensive work of Hundertwasser includes 26 stamps with for various postal administrations. Seventeen of these designs were - in part after his death - implemented as a postage stamp.
- Modern Art in Austria, 1975
- Council of Europe Summit, Vienna, 1993
- 80th Birthday Friedensreich Hundertwasser (4 stamps in the form of a block), 2008
- Senegal - art on stamps (3 stamps), 1979
- Cape Verde Islands - Shipping, 1982 (printed but not issued), 1985 (issued with overprint)
- United Nations Postal Administration (Vienna, Geneva and New York ) - 35 Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (6 stamps), 1983
- Liechtenstein - Homage to Liechtenstein, 1993
Two of the unrealized designs are alternative designs for a stamp issue (United Nations, Senegal) and were therefore not performed. Seven other designs created for the postal administrations of Morocco and French Polynesia, were not realized as a postage stamp.
In addition, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, has adapted some of his works for stamp issues. On the basis of these adaptations have been stamps issued by:
- France - 2 badges for € Europe, 1994
- United Nations Postal Administration (Vienna, Geneva and New York) - Social Summit (3 stamps), 1995
- Luxembourg - European Capital of Culture (3 stamps), 1995
- Liechtenstein - EXPO 2000 in Hanover (3 stamps), 2000
The Austrian post office used more Hundertwasser motives for the European edition 1987 (Modern architecture, Hundertwasser House), on the occasion of his death in 2000 (painting Blue Blues, under the WIPA 2000) and 2004 National Donauauen (poster: The outdoors is our freedom at civil protests in Hainburg).
For the first time a Hundertwasser motive was also used on a Cuban stamp, as part of the art exhibition Salon de Mayo (Havana, 1967).
With the exception of service marks for the Council of Europe and the Cuban stamp, all stamps were engraved by Wolfgang Seidel and by the Austrian State Printing Office in a complex combination printing process produces (intaglio printing, rotogravure printing, as well as metal stamping).
Latin-German dictionary in Hundertwasser style
- In 1989 Brockhaus released a 24-volume limited special edition of its encyclopedia with 1800 pieces, entirely designed by Hundertwasser. Each individual cover of this edition varies in colour of the linen as well as in the colours of foil stamping, making each copy a unique piece. "No band, no cover I designed the encyclopedia is equal to the other. Nevertheless, they attack each other with all their differences and come together to form an overall picture. This is networking among themselves a symbol of knowledge, the Brockhaus gives." (F. Hundertwasser)
- Stowasser: Latin-German school dictionary of Joseph Maria Stowasser. For the newly published 1994 edition of the dictionary "Little Stowasser" Hundertwasser-designed textile bindings in 100 different colour variations.
- Bible. 1995, Size: 20x28, 5 cm, 1688 pages, 80 full-page images, including 30 collages, the hundreds of water specifically for this Bible - Edition has created. Each Bible is characterized by a different colour combination of linen textiles. Also the specimens differ in the bright shining metal colour imprints. Each cover is made mainly by hand.
• In New Zealand his design beliefs have been adopted by a New Zealand terracotta tile manufacturer, who promote his style as "Organic Tiling". The tiling is designed by Chris Southern, who worked with Hundertwasser on the Kawakawa toilets.
• In 1987, at the request of John Lydon, British designer and illustrator Richard Evans produced a homage to Hundertwasser for the cover of Public Image Limited's album Happy?.
- 1959: Sanbra prize at the São Paulo Biennale, V.
- 1961: Mainichi Prize in Tokyo
- 1980: Grand Austrian State Prize for Visual Arts
- 1981: Austrian Nature Protection Award
- 1982: Award winning Author of the year
- 1987: Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
- 1988: Gold Medal of the City of Vienna
- 1988: Gold Medal of Styria
- 1997: Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
- Ferry Radax: Hundertwasser - Leben in Spiralen (Hundertwasser - life in spirals, 1966). Ferry Radax first documentary on his fellow-countryman.
- Ferry Radax: Hundertwasser in Neuseeland (Hundertwasser in New Zealand, 1998). After 30 years Ferry Radax made a second portrait of the artist.
- Peter Schamoni: Hundertwasser Regentag (Hundertwasser's Rainy Day, 1972). An award-winning German documentary about the artist rebuilding an old wooden ship called Regentag (Rainy Day).
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