Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the painter, graphic artist and architect was born 90 years ago
“If a piece of art can make us get even only one step closer to God, why not do it?”
Hundertwasser was one of the most outstanding artists of the 20th century, rich in creative imagination. His special talent has been manifested in graphics, applied arts, painting and architecture. His art and way of thinking amazed both artists and laity. The art work of the designer of schools, housing estates, ecological garbage burners and churches which have become part of the Viennese city scene is full of rich colours and shapes. He respected every living creatures, therefore, he did everything he could to create the harmony of the environment surrounding him. It is no coincidence that his colourful buildings and pictures are covered or embraced by green trees, thus highlighting the creator’s life philosophy and ecological world view.
Friedrich Stowasser was born on December 15, 1928 in Vienna. His father died three months after his first birthday. His Jewish mother, Elsa raised him on her own after that. It was a difficult time for them, especially during the Second World War. Since Hundertwasser’s father was Catholic, both of were baptized as a Catholic. To remain inconspicuous related to his Jewish ancestry, Hundertwasser later joined the Hitler Youth.
After the war, between 1948 and 1949, he continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. and during that time changed his name to Hundertwasser. His talent showed up early, but he could not tolerate school obligations. He gained his skills and know-how in self-educating ways. He gained inspiration for his art from the world of the turn of the century in Vienna, his sources can be found in the art form of secession and in the working method of Wiener Werkstatte. He was inspired by the art of the Secession, especially by the work of Egon Schiele and the neo primitivism of Paul Klee and they helped him helped at the beginning of the 1950s to build his own pictorial world of decorative spiral shapes.
However, Hundertwasser, in his career, was also inspired by distant artistic phenomena such as the naive painting, the informel, and the architecture of Antoni Gaudi.
With his inherent talent and ingenuity, Hundertwasser has found and established his place among the world’s artists. His name became a concept, as well as the institution KunstHausWien, which he founded. Everything reflects the spirit of Hunderwasser, including the checkerboard broken coloured tiles built into the walls as well as the trees growing from the upper windows. Since its opening in 1991, millions of people have seen the exhibitions of the house. Besides the permanent Hundertwasser exhibition temporary exhibitions of other artists are held on the exhibition area of 1600 square meters.
With the wide variety of colours on its facade, Hundertwasser house belongs to the architectural masterpieces of Austria attracting tourists to Vienna from all over the world. The building in the 3rd district was built by Hundertwasser. The building was made between 1983 and 1985 with the help of Jozef Krawina as architect and co-founder, and Peter Pelikan as building contractor and architect. The result has gained international recognition. The house can only be looked at from the outside. On balconies and roof terraces there are over 200 trees and shrubs which is a real green oasis in the middle of the city. Anyone who resides in the Hundertwasser House has the right to decorate their own window and façade on themselves, according to their tastes. The village of Hundertwasser is located opposite the building, which was developed from a tire workshop between 1990 and 1999. Hundertwasser established his only shopping centre here with a village main square, a bar and a shop in his own style.
The artist took everything from nature in his own home as well. On his 400-hectare farm, he planted tens of thousands of trees with his own hands. He hung the lights on lances, made a humus toilette, and gained the power from solar energy. His career was defined by the artistic and natural values, and the organic unit of forces. There was no continent or country unknown for Hundertwasser. For decades, he migrated from continent to continent to find inspirational things in distant cultures and in nature. He had great exhibition success linked to Venice, the world of waters and city of lagoons.
If he had the possibility, he spent time at sea in his yacht, Queen Elizabeth meditating on things in life and art. He also died on his yacht at the age of 71 on his way to New Zealand. He was treated kindly by his fate as his worldly existence ended in his favourite environment. Today, he lies under a tulip tree on his own estate.