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Life of Hundertwasser

By Siriphong P.
Hundertwasser's father Ernst Stowasser died three months after his son's first birthday. The Second World War was a hard time for Hundertwasser and his mother Elsa, as she was Jewish. They avoided persecution by posing as Catholics, a credible ruse because Hundertwasser's father had been a Catholic. To remain inconspicuous, Hundertwasser joined the Hitler Youth.

Hundertwasser developed artistic skills very early. 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. He had his first commercial painting success in 1952-3 with an exhibition in Vienna.

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 "Peacerich" (in the sense of "peaceful"). The other names he chose for himself, Regentag and Dunkelbunt, translate to "Rainy day" and "Darkly multicoloured". His name Friedensreich Hundertwasser means, "Peace-Kingdom Hundred-Water".

Hundertwasser married Herta Leitner in 1958 but they divorced two years later. He married again in 1962 but was divorced by 1966.

He moved into architecture from the early 1950s. 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 postage stamps for the Austrian Post Office, he also designed stamps for the Cape Verde islands and for the United Nations postal administration in Geneva on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Hundertwasser considered New Zealand as his official home, and no matter where he went in the world, his watch was always set to New Zealand time. He was buried there after his death at sea on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2000, at the age of 71.

Artistic style and themes

By Siriphong P.
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 with 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.



By Siriphong P.
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. 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. 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 ("Ornament and Crime"). 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."

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 central Germany, and opened on October 3, 2005.

In his architectural oeuvre, Hundertwasser put diversity before monotony, and replaced a grid system with an organic approach that enables unregulated irregularities.

by Wikipedia

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