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Hundertwasser: Spirals, Turrets and Toilets

Updated on January 31, 2015
Koru Flag  proposed national flag of New Zealand
Koru Flag proposed national flag of New Zealand

Austrian Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 – 2000) first became known as a painter, and later in life as an architect.  His work is reminiscent of Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), but his designs are distinctive – brightly colored, uneven and imaginative.  The spiral is one of his recurring motifs, and he disdains straight lines.  He was mainly dismissed by critics and other architects.  Nevertheless, the buildings he designed have become tourist attractions around the world.  No trip to Vienna is complete without a visit to the Kunsthaus Wien.

Spiral With Tears With Kito In The Corner 1962
Spiral With Tears With Kito In The Corner 1962
Hundertwasser in 1954
Hundertwasser in 1954

 

Born Friedrich Stowasser, he repeatedly tweaked his name throughout his life.  His complete name is Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser, translating roughly to Peace-kingdom Rainy-day Darkly-multicolored Hundred-water.  Hundertwasser and his mother were Jewish, and to avoid suspicion during World War II, Hundertwasser joined the Hitler Youth.  He attended a Montessori school in Vienna, and later studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.  He traveled widely and learned to speak English, French, Italian, and some Japanese, Russian, Czech and Arabic.  He married and divorced twice.  There were two documentary films about Hundertwasser’s life in 1966 and 1972.  He died aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 and was buried under a tulip tree in New Zealand.

Hundertwasserturm  Hundertwasser Tower - Abensberg, Germany
Hundertwasserturm Hundertwasser Tower - Abensberg, Germany

 

Throughout his life Hundertwasser was politically aware.  He was a supporter of the Dalai Lama, and an environmental activist.  He designed posters against nuclear energy, and promoting the protection of rain forests, saving the oceans and the whales.  In 1972 he stated that it was a responsibility for everyone who lived in an urban environment to plant trees.  He wrote, "If man walks in nature's midst, then he is nature's guest and must learn to behave as a well-brought-up guest."  He opposed what he called the geometrization of people caused by their rectangular grid architecture.  His experiences with the Nazis caused him to take anti-totalitarian views, and he supported a constitutional monarchy in Austria.  In 1983 he wrote, “It is outrageous that Austria has an emperor, who did evil to no one, and he is still treated as a leper… Long live Otto von Habsburg!”

Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna, Austria
Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna, Austria

A low-income housing block he designed in Vienna called the Hundertwasserhaus exemplifies his architectural philosophy. There are trees growing out of the apartments, and its roof is covered with grass and trees. There are no straight lines – all the floors are irregular. His final project, completed five years after his death, was Die Grüne Zitadelle in Magdeburg, Germany.

“I should perhaps like to be known as the magician of vegetation or something similar. We are in need of magic.  I fill a picture until it is full with magic, as one fills up a glass with water.” – Hundertwasser

Thermendorf Blumau  hot springs village, Bad Blumau, Austria
Thermendorf Blumau hot springs village, Bad Blumau, Austria
Mllverbrennungsanlage Spittelau  thermal waste treatment facility redesigned by Hundertwasser after a fire, Vienna, Austria
Mllverbrennungsanlage Spittelau thermal waste treatment facility redesigned by Hundertwasser after a fire, Vienna, Austria
Quixote Winery -- Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California
Quixote Winery -- Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California
Kunsthaus Wien  Vienna Art Gallery, Vienna, Austria
Kunsthaus Wien Vienna Art Gallery, Vienna, Austria
Public toilet in Kawakawa, New Zealand
Public toilet in Kawakawa, New Zealand
Die Grne Zitadelle - most of the building is residential - Magdeburg, Germany
Die Grne Zitadelle - most of the building is residential - Magdeburg, Germany
Ronald McDonald haus in Essen, Germany
Ronald McDonald haus in Essen, Germany
St. Barbaras Church in Brnbach, Austria
St. Barbaras Church in Brnbach, Austria

Comments

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    • KU37 profile imageAUTHOR

      KU37 

      3 years ago

      I count myself among those who say "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like." Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment.

    • pumpkincat210 profile image

      Courtney Rhodes 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas U.S.A.

      Cool architecture! I'd never heard of Hundertwasser before or seen any of these images, but I have seen things (very few) built in his style before. Good hub.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      3 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Ha ha ha!

      I laughed out loud...

      Please note, I don't "LOL".

    • KU37 profile imageAUTHOR

      KU37 

      3 years ago

      Twilight - If there's anything I can't tolerate, it's intolerance! We should start an exclusive club: Tolerant-inclusive-ex-Christians-who-love-Christmas-music-stay-out-you-know-who-you-are.com. If the domain name is still available. Thanks for the encouragement. I read your profile, it knocked me out! If we Americans, as our global hegemony fades, can retain a small fraction of your grace then there may still be hope for the planet.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      3 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      You have a new follower... Now start writing again for hubPages.

      Thanks again for the comments concerning Jesus, I'sa, Christmas and intolerance.

      And now I feel encouraged to look into Hundertwasser.

    • profile image

      daisy 

      6 years ago

      this information was very useful

    • KU37 profile imageAUTHOR

      KU37 

      7 years ago

      You're welcome! It was fun to put together.

    • Kim Lynn profile image

      Kim Lynn 

      7 years ago

      Awesome! Loved the pictures/art/towers etc.

      Thanks!

      Kim

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