Art and Style

Hundertwasser's Painting – Individuality and Significance

Irinaland over the balkan
Hundertwasser,
691 IRINALAND OVER THE BALKAN, 1969

A major part of the effect of Hundertwasser's painting is colour. Hundertwasser uses colours instinctively, without associating them with a definite symbolism of even his own invention. He prefers intensive, radiant colours and loves to place complementary colours next to one another to emphasize the double movement of the spiral, for instance. He also likes to use gold and silver, which he pastes onto the picture in a thin foil.

Two large groups of motifs determine the content of Hundertwasser's painting: one comprises a world of forms representing analogies to vegetative growth and an animistic nature; the other is the repetitive use of architectural code symbols: houses, windows, gables, fences, gates. It is one of the idiosyncrasies of Hundertwasser's art that both motif groups are inextricably linked: vegetative forms seem static, to solidify to architecture in order to last, whereas everything constructed seems to have grown organically, to have been produced by nature herself.

His painting technique is also his very personal affair. Hundertwasser likes best to use paints he has pulverised or prepared himself, which he applies without mixing. Similarly, he prepares the priming ground himself; for prime coating, paint mixture and varnish he has developed various recipes of his own, all of which are designed to guarantee a long life for his pictures.
In many of his pictures he uses oil, tempera and watercolour techniques in one picture to achieve a contrasting effect between the matte and radiant parts of the picture.

Wieland Schmied, in: Hundertwasser – KunstHausWien, Cologne: Taschen Verlag, 1999.

Wearing Hats
Hundertwasser, 844 HATS THAT WEAR YOU, 1982

Hundertwasser's colour! There is no limit to its sensuality; it grows richer and richer, in a triumphant, exuberant warmth; greens, blues, and luminous violets exalting the shrill carmines, vermilions, and yellows; and still more sumptuous when the vividness is heightened by applying genuine gold and silver foils. Before such a feast for the eyes one forgets that up until 1957 he had been living on the edge of survival, virtually deprived of everything, for all his meagre requirements and legendary sobriety. One forgets, too, that he had unfolded treasures of ingenuity in the recovery of scraps and trash-can rakings and by painting on anything, with anything, provided it would last – which indeed it has done, as well as if not better than the newest and most costly materials.

Pierre Restany, in "Happy Hundertwasser", 1976, published in: Hundertwasser,
New York: Parkstone Press International, 2008

Hundertwasser's Graphic Work

10002 Nights Homo Humus Come Va How Do You Do
Hundertwasser, 860 10002 NIGHTS HOMO HUMUS COME VA
HOW DO YOU DO,
Originalgrafik 1983

Hundertwasser mastered and innovated many graphic techniques, among them lithograph, silk screen, etching, colour woodcut and many others. He was one of the first to demand and practice complete transparency in terms of technique, dates of creation and editions for each sheet.

Hundertwasser never really created large editions of one and the same graphic work. His graphic editions comprise several colour versions and variants, which are not numbered separately, but instead numbered throughout the entire edition. It was his aim to make many different unique pieces within the art of the graphic, thereby going beyond machine production.

Hundertwasser always took great care to provide exact information about the work on each graphic sheet, in order to arrive at as complete a disclosure of a work's techniques and creation dates as possible.

Hundertwasser's Tapestries

Tapisserie in the exhibition
© KUNST HAUS WIEN / W. Simlinger

Hundertwasser's first tapestry 133 Pissing Boy with Sky-Scraper, was created in 1952 as a result of a bet. Hundertwasser had asserted that it was possible to weave a tapestry without a template, i. e. a cardboard model of the image in the size of the planned tapestry.

All Hundertwasser tapestries that have been executed afterwards by weavers of Hundertwasser's choice have been created without cardboard templates.

When transforming his works into a tapestry, Hundertwasser's main concern was to have this done freehand – a transmission of one of his works into a different medium and the quality of the artistic interpretation by the weaver without pattern or cardboard template. In Hundertwasser's opinion, only this procedure, without a cardboard template, could breathe life into the work, thus an authentic work of art could evolve and not just a soulless copy of the model.
This is the reason why all Hundertwasser's tapestries are unique works..

Hundertwasser's Architecture

As early as 1958, Hundertwasser formulated in his „Mouldiness Manifesto Against Rationalism in Architecture" his denouncement of rationalism, the straight line and functional architecture.

In 1968 Hundertwasser presented his manifesto „Los von Loos (Loose from Loos) – A Law Permitting Individual Building Alterations or Architecture-Boycott Manifesto". For Hundertwasser the tradition of rational, sterile architecture with its deadly monotony begun by the Austrian architect Adolf Loos was responsible for people's misery. He called for a boycott of this architecture and promoted creative freedom to build and the right to individualise buildings.

Backside of the KUNST HAUS WIEN

In his architectural models from the 1970s he demonstrated the afforestation of roofs, the tree tenant and the window right and created new architectonic forms such as the spiral house, the eye-slit house, the pit-house or the terrace house.

As an architectural doctor he took on the responsibility of transforming ugly, monotonous and sterile buildings.

In numerous exemplary architectural projects that Hundertwasser was able to realise from the 1980s onwards, he drove a path out of the cul-de-sac of modern architecture. His buildings are witness to his encouragement of diversity over monotony, for romanticism, for the organic and for unregimented irregularity, for spontaneous vegetation and for a life in harmony with nature.

 

Part of storefront with tree tenant
© KUNST HAUS WIEN / W. Simlinger
Window of the KUNST HAUS WIEN
© KUNST HAUS WIEN / W. Simlinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hundertwasser Encyclopedia

 

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