Friedensreich Hundertwasser - Artist portrait, 1998, Image via enwikipediaorg

Friedensreich Hundertwasser /   Friedrich Stowasser

Austria 1923 - 2000

Painting, Design, Architecture

Friedensreich Hundertwasser
Friedrich Stowasser
July 10, 2016
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

There is little in the way of rigorous logic in Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s art. He avoided theories, preferring the realm of the senses. There is little in his introspective art of a purely speculative nature. That has irritated and confused many of his more literal-minded critics, who supposed that an art as rational as his must also be logical. Hundertwasser has been a dedicated artist and craftsman for forty years and has earned a place in the front rank of those who craft their artwork well and do not merely offer it up as an illustration of an idea. Representational art was out of fashion for decades and after a generation of minimalist colorist, the lush opulence of Hundertwasser’s colors was winning admirers by sheer force of contrast.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser - Untitled, Image via quotesgramcom hundertwasser's exhibition hundertwasser austrian austria house zealand contact 1928 home hundertwasser
Friedensreich Hundertwasser – Untitled, Image via

Early Life and First Artistic Steps

Hundertwasser was born on December 15, 1928, in Vienna as Friedrich Stowasser. Soon after his birth his father died. By the time he was five, he was beginning to express himself in art and in 1943, at the age of fifteen he first consciously drew in pencil, though he soon graduated to crayon and began to collect pressed flowers. Untutored, these works have already displayed distinct personality. His first watercolors show the picturesque woods and the palaces of old Vienna. During the Second World War, Hundertwasser and his mother lived in the cellar of their house near the Danube canal, where the family had been obliged to live since forced resettlement in 1938. A couple of months after the war, the young artist worked as a farmer where the vividness of the land convinced him to become a painter. He decided that only art could be the adequate expression of his feelings of nature thereafter his life’s principal concern.

He decided that only art could be the adequate expression of his feelings of nature

Friedensreich Hundertwasser - hundertwasser's exhibition hundertwasser austrian austria house zealand contact home
Friedensreich Hundertwasser – Green Town, 1973-78, Image via

From Friedrich Stowasser to Friedensreich Hundertwasser

In 1948, he entered the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in Robin Christian Andersen’s class, but shortly after, he chose to leave: “I felt bored and I left. I did not protest. Christian Andersen did not leave any mark.” Formal training did nothing to shape Hundertwasser’s evolution. On the other hand, the influence of Egon Schiele made a considerable impact and from his art, he derived the plastic expression of peaceful beauty, particularly impressed by his palette and the cities he conjured. Schiele’s buildings seemed vitally and soulfully human, nothing like real architecture or the houses conceived by other painters. Young artist recognized the same inner luminosity in the work of Walter Kampmann, completed with the great reputations of Paul Klee and Gustav Klimt.

In October 1950, Hundertwasser first exhibited pictures in Paris in the Galerie Librarie Palmes. That was the time when he chose the name by which he would be known thereafter. In the Slavic languages “Sto” means one hundred, thus out of Stowasser emerged Hundertwasser. He transformed his first name in 1961 when he lived in Japan for a year, from Friedrich to Friederich, then to Friedereich and finally to Friedensreich that has a double meaning as “Peace-realm”, in the sense of “peaceful”. His other names were Regentag (Rainy day), that occurred to him when he noticed how colors shine in the rain, and Dunkelbunt (Dark-colorful).

Hundertwasser was widely influenced by Egon Schiele

Friedensreich Hundertwasser - hundertwasser's exhibition hundertwasser austrian austria house zealand contact hundertwasser
Friedensreich Hundertwasser – Rogner Bad Blumau Kunsthaus, Image via

The Use of Spiral Lines

Hundertwasser’s revulsion for the rectangular rationality of the mechanism into which life is forced derives from impressions made by Austrian Baroque’s voluptuousness and the curvaceous richness of Jugendstil ornamentation. He contended that ruler-straight lines make people sick because, not occurring in nature, they incessantly subject people to an irritation for which the organism is unprepared. Spirals first appeared in his work in 1953. Possibly Jugendstil, that was still manifested all around him, in posters and paintings, in architecture, typography and book design, graphic, textiles, stamps and decorative arts, predisposed Hundertwasser to respond to the spiral form. His first architectural expression of that kind appeared in his Integrative School, Church, Office and Dwelling Complex in Frankfurt (1987). The sweeping ramps that come spiraling back upon themselves are all grass-covered and, seen from air, the building disappears. The first paintings in which the spiral occurs as a motif is Blood Flowing in a Circle and I Have a Bicycle.

Spirals first appeared in his work in 1953

Friedensreich Hundertwasser - Irinaland Over the Balkans , 1969, Image via emazecom
Friedensreich Hundertwasser – Irinaland Over the Balkans , 1969, Image via

Famous Works

One of his strongest and most enduring images, Irinaland Over the Balkans (1969), was inspired by Bulgarian actress Irina Maleeva. The original painting had been done on aluminum foil covered with layers of paper. As he revised graphic conceptions derived from it, the silkscreen was a new work, full of marvelous graphic devices. Each version of the theme became stronger, more compositionally focused. Irinaland over the Balkans bespeaks love of a woman, the land, and art. Through and above the landscape floats Irina’s face. This painting finalizes much of the artist’s previous experimentation. It reaches a new frontier of formal and technical achievement, while distilling and emotional essence.

The artist left the significant mark by creating the Hundertwasserhaus – an apartment building located in the Landstrasse district in Vienna. The vaulting joyous roofline evokes Gaudi’s Casa Mila, but the Austrian one contain a roof garden, indoor winter garden, and numerous terraces reachable by stairs from the downstairs apartments. It was built between 1983 and 1985, according to the ideas and concepts of Hundertwasser with architect Joseph Krawina as a co-author and architect Peter Pelikan as a planner. The conventional engineering shape was broken with non-organic embellishments, scattered windows, undulating stripes of color and mosaics of broken tiles and glass.

The vaulting joyous roofline evokes Gaudi’s Casa Mila

Friedensreich Hundertwasser - Hundertwasser haus, Vienna, 1983-85, Image via annieferriscom
Friedensreich Hundertwasser – Hundertwasserhaus, Vienna, 1983-85, Image via

Conjoining Ecology and Art

Hundertwasser strived to make his art rich in effects. He never preaches that “less is more”, but successfully animated many colors, often on small canvases rich with princely patterning. He died on February 19, 2000, and according to his wish was buried on his New Zealand farm in what he called “the garden of the happy dead”. During his whole life, he traveled extensively. Dedicated to the ecological movement, his aim was to make life livable in a humane environment. Propagating new type of architecture that must be in harmony with nature, planting trees in urban environment was to become obligatory. Hundertwasser protested for the preservation of the natural habitat, demanding a life in accordance with the natural laws. His last project named Die Grüne Zitadelle von Magdeburg was finished after his death in 2005.

Featured image: Friedensreich Hundertwasser – Artist portrait, Image via

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015Artists and prophets. A Secret History of The Modern 1872-1972Schirn Kunsthalle , FrankfurtGroup
2014Friedensreich Hundertwasser: Rainy dayCafesjian Center for the Arts , YerevanSolo
2014Hundertwasser - Artist And Eco-ActivistARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst , IshojSolo
2014Mappenwerke & Special EditionsGallery Arts & Commerce , ViennaGroup
2014From Hogarth to Hundertwasser: A Passion for PrintsSonoma County Museum , Santa Rosa, CAGroup
2014Rhythm and Repetition in 20th-Century ArtHeckscher Museum of Art , Huntington, NYGroup
2014Hundertwasser & Ernst Fuchs - The Viennese painter princeKunsthalle Messmer , barsGroup
2014Made in austriaEssl Museum - Contemporary Art , KlosterneuburgGroup
2013Hundertwasser Solo ShowCobra Museum , AmstelveenSolo
2013Hundertwasser and JapanBelvedere , ViennaSolo
2013Artisti della galleriaGalleria Goethe , BolzanoGroup
2013Estate 2013 Galleria Goethe , BolzanoGroup
2013From Picasso To Weidemann - Works From The Hok-collectionHenie Onstad Art Centre ,HøvikoddenGroup
2013AEIOU - Austrian aspects in the Würth CollectionMuseum Würth , KünzelsauGroup
2013Collettiva MostraGalleria Goethe , BolzanoGroup
2012Friedensreich HundertwasserPAN Kunstforum Niederrhein , EmmerichSolo
2012Friedensreich Hundertwasser: Against the GrainKunsthalle Bremen , BremenSolo
2012Printmaking International MasterGallery Eugen Lendl , GrazGroup
2012The Naked ManLentos Kunstmuseum Linz , LinzGroup
2012Increased temperature. Art and ClimateSalzburger Kunstverein , SalzburgGroup
2012Small - But fine VGallery Maulberger & Becker , DusseldorfGroup
2012The Joys of Collecting: Selections from the Collection Iron MOCA - Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville , Jacksonville, FLGroup
2012GoldBelvedere , ViennaGroup
2012Grand HallucinationMuscarelle Museum of Art , Williamsburg, VAGroup
2012Friedensreich Hundertwasser & Wilhelm RoomGallery mandrel , StuttgartGroup
2011Hundertwasser - The Art of the Green PathKunsthaus Wien , ViennaSolo
20115. Graphic BiennaleGallery mandrel , StuttgartGroup
2011Austrian Figurative ArtThe Gallery - FrankfurtGroup
201140 years mandrel GalleryGallery of thorns , StuttgartGroup
2010HundertwasserZ Gallery , LandauSolo
2010Against the geometrization of manKunstverein Uelzen , UelzenSolo
2010BlueGalleria Goethe , BolzanoGroup
2010Happy EndKunsthalle Göppingen , GöppingenGroup
2010Highs and lows - The Art of GraphicKunstverein Oerlinghausen , OerlinghausenGroup
2010Summertime Galleria Goethe , BolzanoGroup
201075 65 The Collector, the company and its collectionMuseum Würth , KünzelsauGroup
2010Etchings, woodcuts, lithographsGalerie Welz , SalzburgGroup
2009Friedensreich Hundertwasser - The right of DreamsGallery Albstadt , AlbstadtSolo
20094. Biennale of Graphic ArtsGallery mandrel , StuttgartGroup
2009The 50s: Art and Art Appreciation in ViennaMUSA - Museum Start Gallery Artothek , ViennaGroup
2009REVIEW IN THE MODERN - Graphics and painting in the 20th century from the collection of Richard H. MayerMuseum of Young Art , FrankfurtGroup
2009Riccardo Licata e gli amici di Venezia e ParigPalazzo Della Promotrice Delle Belle Arti , TurinGroup
2009Nitsch - role models teaching contemporariesKünstlerhaus Wien , ViennaGroup
2009Antes up roomGallery Voigt , NurembergGroup
2009Estampes, Modern Et ContemporainesGalerie Pierre-Alain Challier , ParisGroup
200940 years personal Linz Art HistoryGallery Eder , LinzGroup
2008THE UNKNOWN HUNDERTWASSERKunsthaus Wien , ViennaSolo
2008Works on Paper - Arakawa up roomColl. Kulak - Otto Gallery , MunichGroup
2008Friedensreich Hundertwasser & Wilhelm RoomGallery mandrel , StuttgartGroup
2008Artist interfere. Committed poster art from Picasso to todayKäthe Kollwitz Museum Cologne ,CologneGroup
2007A Magical Eccentric - The Art of Friedensreich HundertwasserMuseum of Fine Arts, BudapestSolo
20073. Biennale of Graphic ArtsGallery mandrel , StuttgartGroup
2007Summer containerGoethe2 , BolzanoGroup
2007Passion for Art - 35 Years Essl MuseumEssl Museum - Contemporary Art , KlosterneuburgGroup
2006Remainders of at IdealNational Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (Momak) , KyotoSolo
2006City Views - painting and printmakingGallery Kley , HammGroup
2006Summer of LoveKunsthalle Wien, Museumsquartier) , ViennaGroup
2005Friedensreich Hundertwasser exhibition from the collection WürthWürth Artroom ,BoeheimkirchenSolo
2005Hundertwasser · Karl Korap · Pavl Wunderlich · Frednich MeckseperGallery Artzone-Kaguraoka , KyotoSolo
2005peace hundertwasser, objects Gallery wuensch aircube , LinzSolo
2005Christmas Exhibition Gallery Koch , Hannover Group
2005From the Collection Wall, ViennaMuseum of Contemporary Art Belgrade , BelgradeGroup
2005Austrian Contemporary Art and Postwar PaintingMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey MARCO , Monterrey, NLGroup
2004Hundertwasser: Ultime L'OeuvreGalerie Patrice Trigano , ParisSolo
2004Hundertwasser - Fantastic architectureKunsthal Rotterdam , RotterdamSolo
2004Support - The New gallery as a collection - 1950 - TodayNeue Galerie Graz - Universal Joanneum , GrazGroup
2004The Austrian Phenomenon. Conceptions experiments. Vienna Graz 1958-1973Architecture Center Vienna , ViennaGroup
2004Proven in changes 1972 - 2004Bookshop and gallery Wolfgang Böhler , BensheimGroup
2003Friedensreich Hundertwasser - From the artistic legacy ViennaKunstverein Plauen-Vogtland , PlauenSolo
2003It's Not the Size did Counts: Treasures Big & SmallJack Rutberg Fine Arts , Los Angeles, CAGroup
2001Friedensreich HundertwasserImages and Graphics - Galerie Welz , SalzburgSolo
2001Unique pieces or editions?Art Edition Fils , DusseldorfSolo
2001Hundertwasser - unique pieces or editionsOtherwise gallery stilwerk , DusseldorfSolo
2001FEATURED ARTWORK Galerie Koch , Hannover Group
2001Selected works - the gallery's artists since 1971Gallery mandrel , StuttgartGroup
2001International OfferingsJack Rutberg Fine Arts , Los Angeles, CAGroup
2001Bienal 50 Anos - Núcleo históricoMuseu de Arte Contemporanea da Universidade de São Paulo , São PauloGroup
2000Friedensreich Hundertwasser Memories of 30 yearsGallery Kley , HammSolo
2000Inventory IGallery germ , StuttgartGroup
2000Aspect - position - 50 Years of Art in Central Europe 1949-99Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art, BudapestGroup
2000Artist GalleryArt Gallery Richter , BerlinGroup
1999Time average 1900-2000 - 100 years, 100 worksLentos Kunstmuseum Linz , LinzGroup
1999Hundertwasser - ArchitectureThe Nagoya City Art Museum , NagoyaSolo
1998Flags of ToleranceContemporary Art Centre (CAC) , VilniusGroup
1996Wunderkammer AustriaKunsthaus Zurich , ZurichGroup
1996Art from Austria 1896-1996Art and Exhibition Hall , BonnGroup
1996Austria in RosennetzMAK - Museum of Applied Arts , ViennaGroup
1991Friedensreich Hundertwasser - graphics from the Würth Collection Hirschwirtscheuer , KünzelsauSolo
1985Friedensreich Hundertwasser Kunstverein Uelzen , UelzenSolo
1977Christmas ExhibitionGallery Ariadne - Thomas Netusil art market, ViennaGroup
1977X Quadrennial Nazionale d'Arte. Artisti stranieri anti opera in ItaliaQuadrennial di Roma ,RomeGroup
1977Hundertwasser - The graphic workNassau Kunstverein , WiesbadenSolo
1976Hundertwasser Statens Museum for Kunst , CopenhagenSolo
1975Friedensreich Hundertwasser - RegentagHaus der Kunst München, MunichSolo
1973HundertwasserGovett-Brewster Art Gallery, New PlymouthSolo
1972Metamorphosis de DingesKunsthalle Basel , BaselGroup
1972Hundertwasser - Dein Fensterrecht-Deine Baumpflicht Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, DusseldorfSolo
1971Metamorphosis de DingesPalazzo Reale , MilanGroup
1971Metamorphosis de DingesNew National Gallery , BerlinGroup
1971Metamorphosis de DingesMuseum Boijmans van Beuningen , RotterdamGroup
1971Metamorphosis de Dinges - BOZARPalais des Beaux-Arts, Paleis voor Schone Kunsten ,BrusselsGroup
1969HundertwasserThe Phillips Collection, Washington, DCSolo
1969Hundertwasser Solo ExhibitGalerie St. Etienne, New York City, NYSolo
1969Hundertwasser: Exhibition of PaintingsArts Club of Chicago, Chicago, ILSolo
1969HundertwasserMFAH - Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TXSolo
1968Hundertwasser Solo ExhibitSanta Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CASolo
1967Accrochage 68  Galerie St. Stephan - Rosemarie Black Forest , ViennaGroup
1967Graphics International  Gallery St. Stephan - Rosemarie Black Forest , ViennaGroup
1967From the Bauhaus to the present dayKunstverein in Hamburg , HamburgGroup
1964Documenta 3Documenta , KasselGroup
1963Austrian Art since 1945 - the forcesGalerie St. Stephan - Rosemarie Black Forest , ViennaGroup
1959Christmas Exhibition Gallery St. Stephan - Rosemarie Black Forest , Vienna Group
1959International Exhibition of graphic presence 1959Nassau Kunstverein , WiesbadenGroup
1958Christmas Exhibition - Gallery St. StephanRosemarie Black Forest , ViennaGroup
1957Christmas Exhibition - Gallery St. StephanRosemarie Black Forest , ViennaGroup
1957Fritz Hundertwasser - Meine Augen sind müdeGalerie nächst St. Stephan - Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, ViennaSolo
1956Christmas Exhibition - Gallery St. StephanRosemarie Black Forest , ViennaGroup