Friedensreich Hundertwasser (Friedrich Stowasser)

Born 1928, Vienna, Austria.
Died February 19 2000

Austrian painter and printmaker. Born to a Jewish mother, he foiled the Nazis and was able to shield some of his relatives for a time. During Nazi rule he studied in Vienna, at public schools and at the Montessori school before briefly attending the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. His floridly patterned works with their haunting and rich colours are dependent on the decorative tradition that produced Art Nouveau. The luxurious, sinuous forms and expressive distortions affiliate him to figurative artists such as Klimt and Schiele.

Hundertwasser’s subject-matter modified these stylistic sources and was often influenced by his great interest in a sane environment expressed as a stable relationship between man, the built world and nature. He travelled widely and developed a pictorial vocabulary unspecific to any place or time. Hundertwasser made significant contributions to printing techniques with such works as the woodcut series Nana Hiakv Mizu (1973; with Japanese artists). The decorative and technical opulence of his work made him a controversial figure with the critics, while assuring him a large popular following.

In 1948 Friendensreich Hundertwasser studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts for 4 months. A year later he changed his name to Friedensreich Hundertwasser, which means “full-of-peace hundred-water”.

From 1949 to 1952 he undertook many journeys to North Africa and Paris, where he started to deal with the paintings of Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee and others. In 1962 Hundertwasser had his international break through at the Biennale in Venice. Around this time he also made ideological statements, with his famous nudist speeches and his call for peace, ecology and new forms of architecture. Not unlike the artists of the Session Movement, he saw art as a decoration. Hundertwasser got even more famous as an architect. From 1986 to 1991 he planned and realised different buildings, like the Hundertwasser Haus and the front of the waste combustion Spittelau.

Not content to merely paint and make prints, Hundertwasser was also an architect (uncredentialed) who wrote manifestoes, designed posters and stamps, and traveled the globe bringing construction projects to realization and collecting awards. He was also an outspoken proponent of many environmental and anti-nuclear causes. Despite all of this, he is (rightfully) best known for his vibrantly-colored, opulently-decorated paintings and graphic works and his contributions to printmaking technique

Important Works:

  • Mould Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture (manifesto, 1958)
  • Good Morning City (1969)
  • Song of the Whales (1978)
  • Hundertwasser-House (structure; Vienna; 1977-86)
  • The 30-Day Fax Picture (1994)


See the Save The World Club mosaic inspired by Hundertwasser.

Download the ‘Mould Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture‘ by Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Go to the official Hundertwasser website


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