The World of Art at the UN in Vienna

    Friedensreich Hundertwasser

    Friedensreich Hundertwasser

    Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) was an Austrian painter and architect. Born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna, he became one of the best-known contemporary Austrian artists, although controversial, by the end of the 20th century.

    His original and unruly artistic vision manifests itself in pictorial art, environmentalism, philosophy, and design of facades, postage stamps, flags, and clothing, to name only a few areas. He utilised bright colours, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism rejecting straight lines.

    Hundertwasser remains unique, 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 by 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.

    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 (the artist claimed that "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".

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