Meet an Artist: Friedensreich Hundertwasser

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Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 – 2000), born Friedrich Stowasse, is considered one of the most profound mavericks of architecture and art.

He was raised by his Jewish mother as his father passed away shortly after Friedrich’s birth. His mother put him in the Hitler Youth to save both of their lives.

A highly emblematic part of his character was his admittance to the Vienna Academy of Art. This was the same place that Hitler attempted to attend just 40 years prior. Friedrich left after 3 months to pursue his true art. In his Mouldiness Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture he made the claim that:

In architecture, however, this fundamental freedom, which must be regarded as a precondition for any art, does not exist, for a person must first have a diploma in order to build. Why?

In 1948, he changed his name to Friedensreich meaning “peaceful realm”.

Friedensreich began traveling extensively and gaining international recognition before the age of 30. His detailed biography of art awards and travels are found at the Hundertwasser Archive.

He began using architecture as an outlet for his artistic expression because he despised what it had come to be. An article in the Guardian talks about this passion:

…he denounced the aridity of modern architecture, ridiculed symmetry – by wearing different coloured socks – and described straight lines, horizontals and verticals as “the tool of the devil” and “the rotten foundation of our doomed civilisation”.

The article then touches on his criticism of architecture as an art form:

He denounced the professional institutions of architecture because they would not permit practice by amateurs. This, he said, proved that architecture was not an art, but a professional conspiracy.

Straight Lines

The most identifying technique was his artistic boycott of straight lines. This can be seen in his possibly most famous building, the Hundertwasser Haus, which opened in 1986:

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Hundertwasser Art 2011 Wall Calendar

To have a daily reminder that art is what you make it, make sure to pick up the 2011 calendar for yourself, or anyone who needs a little more ‘Hundertwasser’ in their artistic lives.

image credit: wikipedia & reisserbilder


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One Response to “Meet an Artist: Friedensreich Hundertwasser”

  1. elizabeth smith 16. Jun, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    Reading this post reminded me of another architect, Rudolf Steiner. Though known principally as a philosopher and founder of Anthroposophy, on which the Waldorf Schools in the US and Steiner Schools in Europe are based, he was also a part of that group of organic architects that Hundertwasser is considered to be part of. The “subdivision” I lived in Forest Row, East Sussex was based on Steiner’s architectural ideas. Interestingly, none of the rooms in the home I lived in had right angles. The building he is most famous for designing is the Goetheanum – which looks pretty hideous in the photos I’ve seen. But there were aspects of the Hundertwasser Haus that reminded of that subdivision in Forest Row.

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