Fridensraih Hunderwasser

Fridensraih Hunderwasser

Famous Austrian architect
Date of Birth: 15.12.1928
Country: Austria

Biography of Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a famous Austrian architect, is a figure that divides Vienna in half. While half of the city is proud of him, the other half condemns him, fearing that he will disrupt the old imperial architecture, uproot the famous Biedermeier style, and fill elegant Vienna with his colorful gingerbread buildings resembling the homes of gnomes from Grimm's fairy tales. "Hundertwasser is kitsch!" cry the haters. "Hundertwasser is a genius!" argue his fans. He is eccentric, a master of all trades, a provocateur, a fanatic, a cosmopolitan in his work and in life, a wanderer, and an artist. In short, he is a one-man orchestra.

Fridensraih Hunderwasser

Born in 1928 as Friedrich Stowasser to a Jewish family, Hundertwasser's life and career were marked by adventure and creativity. After traveling through Italy as a twenty-year-old, he changed his name to Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a more international and aesthetic name. His education in the arts was brief, studying for only three months at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts under Professor Robin Christian Andersen. However, he was heavily influenced by expressionist artists Walter Kampmann and Egon Schiele. Hundertwasser embarked on a long journey, visiting various cities in northern Italy, Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Sicily, and Florence. In Paris, he briefly attended the School of Fine Arts before abandoning his studies.

Fridensraih Hunderwasser

Hundertwasser developed his own unique graphic style, reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh's swirling "Starry Night" and the crumbling churches of Aristarkh Lentulov. His love for spirals, which he had invented in his youth, became a lifelong theme, form, and content in his art. He passionately and joyfully painted these vibrant and colorful whirlpools. His graphic works are now showcased on an honorary floor in the KunstHaus, his museum of contemporary art in Vienna.

Fridensraih Hunderwasser

Throughout his life, Hundertwasser explored different artistic movements, including surrealism and abstractionism. He was influenced by the ornamentation and curves of Antoni Gaudí's architecture, as well as the discoveries of Russian avant-garde artists from Filonov to the Constructivists. His architectural designs incorporated his unique style, with golden domes and glazed, multicolored columns reminiscent of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

Fridensraih Hunderwasser

Although he was not fortunate in love in his younger years, Hundertwasser married twice, once in Gibraltar and once in Japan. His first marriage lasted two years, and his second lasted five. However, in his later years, the seventy-year-old artist became known for his constant companionship with young women. His ever-changing girlfriends sparked envy and curiosity among his colleagues and business partners. Hundertwasser was also known for his eccentric fashion sense, particularly his habit of wearing mismatched socks, a fact known to every resident of Vienna, whether with enthusiasm or disdain.

For many years, Hundertwasser shocked the cultural society with his extravagant behavior. He co-founded the "Pintorarium," a universal academy for all creative fields, with artists Ernst Fuchs and Arnulf Rainer. His lectures at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts, where he collaborated on the "Infinite Line" with Bazon Brock and Herbert Schulz, ended in scandal. He composed the manifesto "The Right to a Third Skin" and read it naked to a stunned audience in Munich in 1967. His second "naked" performance with a boycott manifesto was titled "Loose from Loos." It is said that he even performed a male striptease in front of the female mayor of Vienna during the struggle for his architectural project, although it is almost legendary.

Hundertwasser began developing his unique façade design, advocating for ecological uncompromisingness. His relationship with nature was always of utmost importance to him, as he carefully integrated his works into its natural surroundings. He enthusiastically took on various projects, creating sketches for postage stamps, and excelling in this field. In 1997, he received the Grand Prix of German philatelists. His film was shown in Cannes, and he became the first European artist to inspire Japanese wood sculptors to create carvings based on his designs. His homeland began to take pride in him, organizing an exhibition tour titled "Austria Presents Hundertwasser to the Continents." The tour started in Paris and continued to Luxembourg, Marseille, Cairo, New York, Boston, Tel Aviv, Warsaw, Reykjavik, Copenhagen, Dakar, Mexico City, Montreal, Toronto, Brussels, Budapest, Hanover, Brooklyn, and Maryland. Hundertwasser had never visited Russia, but it is a missed opportunity. His graphic works would surely have found success there, and he would have found an audience for his ecological appeals, if he could withstand the pollution in the air.

Hundertwasser's philosophy as a world citizen and advocate for the living nature is best illustrated by his design of the World Flag for the Middle East, featuring a green Arab crescent and a blue Star of David on a white background. This flag was accompanied by the publication of the Manifesto of Peace. Open to all nations, Hundertwasser designed postage stamps for Senegal and Ivory Coast. On "Hundertwasser Day" in Washington D.C. on November 18, 1980, twelve out of one hundred trees were planted in the Justice Square, and the artist presented an anti-nuclear poster promoting ecology against nuclear weapons. "Humans and nature must live in harmony," declared Hundertwasser. He believes that painting is akin to religious activity, receiving external stimuli and sensing an unknown force that comes or does not come to guide the artist's hand. In the past, this might have been called a Muse. "Of course, it's a stupid idea, but it's inspiring," the artist chuckles. He does not recognize ambitions such as willpower, education, and perfectionism. "I want to be called a wizard of vegetation or something similar," he says. His enthusiasm extends to the decoration of churches, the design of children's centers, the development of contemporary art, and the care for the appearance of cities. He has been awarded the Honorary Gold Medal of the City of Vienna and the Honorary Gold Medal of Styria, the state that is associated with one of his most significant projects in recent years.

In Blumau, a small town in southeastern Austria, oil was sought but instead, two mineral springs were discovered. In this region, such discoveries are not unusual, so disappointed geologists buried the boiling streams and covered them with concrete. However, the local authorities were not willing to give up. They decided to build a wellness center in Blumau.

Just before this, Hundertwasser had invented the model of "Rolling Hills." He brought this idea to life by constructing a thermal complex. Bad Blumau became a unique work of art. Several hotel buildings were constructed in his recognizable and beloved style. The windows, of various sizes and shapes, enliven the already amusing facades in a haphazard pattern. At the entrance to the hotel grounds, three phallic-shaped fountains, known as the Fountain Trio, spray water joyfully. All the buildings are seamlessly integrated into the whimsical local landscape, with roofs covered in grass and shrubs, as if emerging from the ground without disturbing its natural covering. This demonstrates Hundertwasser's principle of the harmonious union between humans and nature, which he preached and implemented.

Hundertwasser once developed the theory of the dictatorship of windows and their right to self-determination. He argued that houses with orderly facades were akin to concentration camps, while each window-individual had the right to its own life. According to him, houses are not made of walls - that is an illusion - but of windows. Hundertwasser diligently implemented his deceptive declarations. He built houses that were free of common norms and clichés, where nature and humans met not in a struggle for self-assertion but through creativity. The Hundertwasser House, constructed between 1977 and 1986, became the first free House and the realization of the artist's dream. Its irregular lines exuded a passion for adventure and a sense of belonging to a magical land where the rights of windows and trees were respected, where uneven floors prevented boredom, and roofs were covered in exuberant vegetation. Here, beauty had no obstacles in its broadest sense.

In addition to his architectural achievements, Hundertwasser is known for his diverse artistic endeavors. He finds artistic value in the most trivial things, such as designing tokens for casinos or creating artistic designs for telephone cards, postage stamps, and posters. Hundertwasser is fascinated by his own project, his version of the Bible, and simultaneously develops the external design for the "Boeing 757" of the German airline "Condor." He constructs summer villages, markets, and book covers for book clubs. His works are generously scattered throughout the world. In Tokyo, an installation titled "Monument to the Clocks of the 21st Century" can be found. If you happen to find yourself in Portugal, you will encounter a grandiose panel of tiles called "The Descent of Atlantis" at the Eastern Railway Station in Lisbon. But if you are in Vienna, it is essential to visit Hundertwasser's KunstHaus, where you can admire the colorful stained glass and reflect on the beauty of life.