Following renovations of the exhibition space and a reorganisation of the stock, with many new additions including original paintings, early works, graphic works and tapestries, the permanent Hundertwasser exhibition at KUNST HAUS WIEN has a new look. One reason for the changes was that after the conclusion of the exhibition at Kunsthalle Bremen in mid-February 2013, a number of works were once again placed on loan, this time to the Belvedere for the exhibition “Hundertwasser, Japan and the Avant-Garde”, being shown through 30 June 2013.
Visitors who are familiar with the Hundertwasser exhibition at KUNST HAUS WIEN will first notice the new selection of works done by Hundertwasser in his youth. These early works, done in pencil, coloured pencils and watercolours, are extremely sensitive to light, and after being exhibited for a considerable length of time require a period of rest in lightproof storage.
The two works JW 44 / 1 DANUBE NEAR KAHLENBERGERDORF and JW 46 / 3 SCHWALLENBACH FROM THE SOUTH, which have only been exhibited three times since they were painted in 1944, are remarkable for their delicacy of line and freshness of colour. One noteworthy exhibition in which they appeared was the one held at the Jewish Museum in Rendsburg in 2008, which presented the largest number of Hundertwasser’s early works since the exhibition within the Graphic Art Collection of the Albertina in 1974, at which time his juvenilia was first catalogued.
The work JW 76 TERRACED LANDSCAPE NEAR STIEFERN is interesting for more than one reason: artistically, first of all, because the stripes of the terrace layers are the visually experienced origin of the sediment-layer lines. Striped material, particularly in the form of spiral lines, recurs repeatedly in Hundertwasser’s later works. The biographical aspect is also interesting, since Hundertwasser painted this work during a stay at Stiefern in a children’s home on Kalvarienberg mountain, a facility where children from the city spent their holidays. From the beginning of World War II until after the end of the war, many children from Germany and Austria found refuge in Stiefern, where they were able to recover their health and recuperate from the psychological strain of the air raids.
For the first time at KUNST HAUS WIEN, it is also possible to see the next stage in Hundertwasser’s artistic development: the works he created at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where he studied for only three months. The acute-angled, linear structure and geometrically patterned composition of JW 187 / 40 FEMALE NUDE SEATED IN A CHAIR ON A PODIUM (1949) and JW 172 / 38 NUDE, UPRIGHT (1948) clearly show the influence of his teacher, Robin Christian Andersen. It is not surprising that after this short period of formalistic study, Hundertwasser arrived at the conviction that training at the Academy would not contribute anything important to his development as a painter.
One much-travelled work, which has been shown internationally at numerous exhibitions, in particular during the years 1975–1986, is now back at KUNST HAUS WIEN and exemplifies Hundertwasser’s independent artistic approach in the early 1950s: The watercolour 130 IF I HAD A NEGRESS I WOULD LOVE AND PAINT HER was painted during a sojourn in Styria, but reflects the strong impact of Hundertwasser’s impressions of Morocco and Tunisia, which he visited in 1951.
A few years later, Hundertwasser painted 185 I CAPELLI DELLA CITTA THE HAIR OF THE CITY - THE CHURCHES OF THE DAY, which has never been exhibited at KUNST HAUS WIEN before. This work is typical of the fluid spiral lines in Hundertwasser’s works of the 1950s, after he embraced the spiral motif in 1953.
An unusual work that was never displayed in public until the exhibition in Marseille in 2012 is 446 MENU PER LA COLOMBA - MENU FOR LA COLOMBA, done in Venice in 1960. It was most likely a design for a restaurant menu, but there is no record of whether the menu was actually produced.
551 SPIRALSUN AND MOONHOUSE - THE NEIGHBOURS I was painted in 1963 in La Picaudière. Hundertwasser used the theme of a connection between a house and the sun in several works and wrote, in his commentary, that to him, the spiral was a symbol of the sun and the house a symbol of the moon.
The exhibition area devoted to graphic works on the second floor of the museum has also received an important addition. At last, KUNST HAUS WIEN is able to present Hundertwasser’s “Last Graphic Works 1994–2000”, including the graphic art portfolio LA GIUDECCA COLORATA, which was published in 2001 and has appeared in more than 30 exhibitions but never before in Vienna.
After the three woodcut portfolios REGENTAG - LOOK AT IT ON A RAINY DAY - JOUR DE PLUIE (1972), NANA HYAKU MIZU (1973), MIDORI NO NAMIDA (1975) and JOY OF MAN - MENSCHENFREUDE - JOIE DE L'HOMME (1988), the portfolio LA GIUDECCA COLORATA presents silk screens done in Venice in collaboration with Hundertwasser’s printer friend Claudio Barbato. Hundertwasser intended to sign the pages of the portfolio after his return from New Zealand in 2000. After his death, the pages were stamped with the estate stamp he had designed.
Hundertwasser’s last woodcuts are now also on display.
Perhaps the most eye-catching change in the exhibition is the exchange of tapestries on the second floor of the museum, given that the monumental works 820A THE FÜHRER, 685A IF YOU GO ACROSS THE FIELDS YOU ARRIVE AT GROSSWEISSENBACH and 803A PARDONNEZ-MOI MUSTAFA PARDON ME MUSTAFA had been featured in the permanent exhibition since the opening of KUNST HAUS WIEN in 1991.
The tapestries now being exhibited were made, like their predecessors, in the workshop “Gobelinos Riedl” in Mexico. The textile artist Fritz Riedl had established this workshop in the 1970s and trained the weavers. The workshop still exists today, under the name “The Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos”, and Rafael Morquecho Martínez, the weaver of the tapestry 725A, still works there. His philosophy, which corresponds to Hundertwasser’s assessment of the weavers’ contribution to tapestries, appears on the workshop website: “Each tapestry is an interpretation of works of art. In other words, the weavers are not unlike professional musicians that perform their own version of a classical symphony or concerto.”
In 1951, Fritz Riedl, the founder of the workshop in Mexico, sent Hundertwasser a loom so that the artist could prove, in order to win a bet, that it was possible to weave a tapestry without using a cardboard template. The result, Hundertwasser’s hand-woven tapestry 133 PISSING BOY WITH SKY-SCRAPER, is also back at KUNST HAUS WIEN, after an absence on loan at the exhibition in Bremen.
Hundertwasser’s internationally celebrated early work was profoundly influenced by Japanese art and philosophy. Furthermore, it was friends from the avant-garde art world in Paris – including Japanese painters and sculptors – who bolstered Hundertwasser’s vision of art and life that was both critical and motivated by social concerns. For the first time in Vienna the exhibition will bring together masterpieces by Hundertwasser and works by Shinkichi Tajiri, Akira Kito, Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, Pierre Alechinsky, Constant, Corneille, Sam Francis, and Mark Tobey – also for the first time being shown together with Hundertwasser from the point of view of the Far Eastern influences on their work.
2 € discount: With your ticket for the Museum Hundertwasser at the KUNST HAUS WIEN you get a discount of € 2 on one full-price ticket for the Hundertwasser-exhibition at the Belvedere. Also valid vice-versa. Valid from 6 March to 30 June 2013. Cannot be combined with other discounts. Not redeemable for cash.
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