Friedensreich Hundertwasser

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Friedensreich Hundertwasser was a renowned and notable Austrian artist and architect, who has produced countless of exuberant paintings, iconic sculptures, captivating edifices, and truly awe-inspiring exhibitions.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was born, Friedrich Stowasser, on  December 15, 1928, in Vienna. His father, Earnest Stowasser worked as technical civil servant and he was also a WWI veteran, while his mother, Elsa Stowasser was a Jewish woman. His father passed away in 1929, and Friedrich was left in the care of his widowed mother. He began attending the Montessori School of Vienna for his basic education, and it was at the young age of seven that he began exhibiting signs of a unique and remarkable, natural artistic talent.

With the advent of the Nazis in Austria, in 1938, Friedrich and his mother decided to move in with his grandmother and aunt, and despite their Jewish heritage they were forced to portray themselves as Christians in order to escape persecution at the hands of the Nazis. In 1941, he became a member of the Hitler Youth to pose as a good Christian and show his support for the Nazi regime.

When the WWII came to an end, Friedrich enrolled himself at the Academy of Fine Art in Vienna, and it was here at the academy that he began using the pseudonyms of Regentag, Dunkelbut, and Hundertwasser to sign his works, however, of these Hundertwasser became the most used. Soon, Friedrich left the Academy, packed his bags and left for Italy.

In Italy he met the talented French painter, Rene Bro, and they formed a close friendship. Friedrich and Rene began travelling extensively, going through exotic and breath-taking lands to feed their craving for natural beauty. In 1952, he returned to Vienna and showcased his work at a series of highly acclaimed and commercially successful exhibitions. His fame began to spread, and commissions started lining up outside his studio.

Friedrich’s work featured bold, exuberant colours such as red and blue, and the portrayed the relationship between humans and the nature around them. His talent was unique and he did not rely on the confirmation of any specific art style, school or color theory. For Friedrich, art was a religious experience, which could not be made through rationalizing but through truly immersing in one’s spiritual self. In 1954, Friedrich gave this mystical philosophy behind the development of art the name of ‘Transautomatism’, which he later renamed as the ‘Grammar of Vision.

Friedrich travelled all over the world and gave one-man exhibitions at prestigious art galleries and societies in Vienna, London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, and New Zealand. He took part in the 1961 Biennale that was held in Venice, and the same year, he received the Mainichi Prize at the 6th International Art Exhibition, which took place in Tokyo. In addition to his art and architecture, Friedrich has been accredited for some incredibly influential manifestos and lecture, which include, “My Aspiration: To Free Myself from the Universal Bluff of our Civilization”, “Art Is Always Changing”, “Your right to windows—your duty to the trees”, “Mouldiness Manifesto: Against Rationalism in Architecture” and “Naked Speech” among many others.

Some of his best known and most famous works include, “A Raindrop Which Falls into the City”, “Hommage au Tachisme”,”Mourning Schiele”, “The Way to You”, “Irinaland Over the Balkans”, “It Hurts to Wait With Love if Love Is Somewhere Else” and “The Third Skin” among others.

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