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Friedensreich Hundertwasser

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Friedensreich Hundertwasser

*  1928 Wien
† 2000 auf dem Schiff "Queen Elizabeth II" vor Neuseeland


The Austrian painter, drawer, graphic artist, architect and egocentric bon vivant Friedensreich Hundertwasser (actually Friedrich Stowasser) is born in Vienna on December 15, 1928. He changes his last name to Hundertwasser in 1948, and his first name to Friedensreich in 1969, howver, he refers to himself and also signs his works with 'Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt'.
Friedensreich Hundertwasser lives in his own imaginative world from childhood on, he paints, draws, presses flowers. He visits the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna as of 1947, determined to become an artist. However, he leaves the academy after just four months. He is fascinated by two exhibitions that take place in Vienna in 1948, "In commemoration of Gustav Klimt and Walter Kampmann " and "In commemoration of Egon Schiele". Hundertwasser goes on a journey to Italy in 1948, travelling all the way down to Sicily, he gets to know the French painter René Brô and follows him to Paris, where he stays until July 1950. He decides to attend the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, but runs away after just one day.
Hundertwasser then travels to Tunis and Morocco. In Marrakech he dresses like a Moroccan and mingles with the locals until his disguise is revealed and he is evicted. Friedensreich Hundertwasser returns to Vienna, where an exhibition of his works is organized at the Art Club in 1952/53. He is friends with the group of "Wiener Phantastischen Realisten" (Viennese Fantastic Realists), but never joins the group.
He writes a manifesto in 1952, in which he turns against the "Bluffzivilisation" (Bluff Civilization). The form of the spiral first appears in one of his works in 1953, a form that he sees as a symbol for life and death. Friedensreich Hundertwasser's art has its roots in the vegetative, organic style of Art Nouveau, however, he finds his way to a completely individual imagery. He despises the straight line for it is ungodly as it leads directly to death.
Friedensreich begins working on his extensive graphic oeuvre as of 1967, among which are silk-screens in colors and metal foil embossing prints.
He travels from Sicily to Venice on an old wooden bark in 1968. He calls teh ship "Regentag" (Rainy Day), other journeys to Tunis, Cyprus and Israel follow.
The manifesto "Scheißkultur. Die heilige Scheiße" (Shit Culture. The Holy Shit). Hundertwasser designs 37 buildings in his characteristic style with round and playful forms in many colors, among them the Hundertwasser house in Vienna, made from 1983 to 1986.
The artist, who was always controversial, always provocative, but at the same time extremely popular and successful, died on the ship "Queen Elizabeth II" in 2000 in front of the coast of New Zealand.


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