Monthly Archives: March 2001

A colourful life for the bend line – Artist Friedrich Hundertwasser died

About Friedrich Hundertwasser: a translated article from the german daily magazine LVZ (Leipziger Volks Zeitung )

A colourful life for the bend line

the artist and architect Friedrich Hundertwasser has died/ public liked him, but critics didn’t

His whole life he was accused of creating trash – but he was one of the most popular artist of our days. Last weekend the austrian artist and architect Friedrich Hundertwasser died on board of his cruising ship “Queen Elizabeth II” in the middle of the pacific ocean.
He is going to be buried like he wanted to: in his own “garden of the happy dead” in New Zealand. There lies also his old wooden ship “rainy day” which he was sailing the whole sea under colourful striped sails.

His real name was Friedrich Stowasser, and he was born 1928 in Vienna as son of a jewish family of whom only few survived the terror of the nazi regime. Quite early, the drawing talents of the pupil of a Montessori school was discovered: but he as an individualist never obeyed the forces of an academic education. He left the Art Academy of Vienna after three months (Wiener Akademie der bildenden Kuenste), and the Ecole des Beaux Arts of Paris after one day. He refused to follow the dominating style of gestural abstraction, which evolved after the war. He developed a style combing Romantic and Art Nouveau traditions of the beginning of the 20th century. Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele were his idols. It is not made clear in how he developed his pictures or his themes, but more in his beautiful ornaments and his utopian desire for a new compromise of humans with nature.

He liked the spiral as a symbol for the circle of life, and it became the main metaphor, he tried not to use straight lines or 90° angles in his works which combine like in dreams subconscience, reality and knowledge. Hundertwasser was working consciously decoratively and for the masses – for him it was for fulfilling his pacifistic-ecological conscience, which didn’t know despise against beauty.
“The absence of trash makes our life unbearable”.

His publicity grew, but the art critics bashed him a lot, not because of his theory and trends and work, but they didn’t like his intensive self-marketing. Mainly during his last years of his life, museum shops became flooded with Hundertwasser ties, calenders, posters and so on.

His wildest times were nearly forgotten.

In the 60 s and 70s he was classified as being a threat to the burgeosie, because he publisised his pamphlets naked: “The holy shit” or his “mouldy manifesto against the rationalism in architecture“.

He regarded architecture as the “third skin” of humans, so he was quite enthusiastic about it. 1986 he gave the tenants the “Hundertwasser house” in Vienna with typical onion-shaped towers and tiled columns and green roof terraces and trees growing out of windows. It developed to be a tourist attraction, in spite of the critics who didn’t like the colourful roundshaped buildings as being expensive. After that, Hundertwasser was trying himself in whole of Europe as a “architecture medical surgeon” in the neverending fight against the modern soulless right angles and for organically human-friendly buildings.

He was fought against heavily, but also hot loved: Friedrich Hundertwasswe is one of the most popular artist of the 20th century, and he was able to polarise. His pictures should have a positive effect, that’s what he said to Harry Rand, who was writing his biography.

“I would like it to be regarded as a encouragement for a creative world. Drawing is only an exercise in the direction for this destination : it is a kind of prayer.”