Friedensreich Hundertwasser was born in Vienna
on 15 December 1928 as Friedrich Stowasser. Over the years he has often changed his name, to account for all the different activities he was busy with.
Hunderwasser spent some time at the art academy in Vienna but never finished it; he left as soon he had mastered the basic principles of body abstraction, nude studies and painting after nature. Hundertwasser was greatly influenced by Egon Schiele, who painted houses as if they were living creatures, by Paul Klee and Gustav Klimt, and by Walter Kampmann, who portrayed trees as personalities.
One of the main themes that keep recurring in his work is the inhuman regularity of the modern city, a machine meant for living in where life has to adapt to the pace of the machine. This concept leads to an aversion of straight lined rationality. Hunderwasser was convinced that straight lines are unhealthy for the body as well as the mind. Straight lines do not occur in nature and therefore they subject people to a continuing stimulus they ultimately cannot cope with. This idea is reflected in many of Hundertwasser's paintings but most of all in his architecture. He has designed many different buildings, some of which have actually been built. Amongst them are houses, an appartment building (the Hundertwasser Haus in Vienna), a factory for city heating and a church. In his designs straight lines and repetition are avoided as much as possible, no two windows are the same. They are full of colourful details, like onion shaped towers in gold and silver and coloured key-stones above the windows.. Some of the more revolutionary concepts in Hunderwasser's archtitecture are grass roofs, on which trees grow, and the 'tree tenants': trees that are rooted inside the building and grow out the window. Hundertwasser was probably one of the first people to consider ecology while designing houses and factories, they usually contained waste water cleaning systems based on micro-organisms. Apart from designing new buildings, Hunderwasser also worked as a 'doctor for architecture', a job he had invented himself and which involved the change and decoration of existing sterile and soulless buildings, thus making them more humane.
A very active man, Hundertwasser has made more pieces of art and said more interesting things than can ever be mentioned here. He died on 19 February 2000, on board the Queen Elizabeth II at sea.
points out to me that Russian 'sto' = German 'hundert' (= English 'hundred'.) This might indeed explain the name Hundertwasser very well!
sources: 'Hundertwasser' by Harry Rand (Taschen) and www.brittanica.com
For pictures of his works, more biographica
l info and lots of quotes
, the homepage of the Kunsthaus Wien