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Hundertwasser (Midi S.) by Wieland Schmied

Hundertwasser (Midi S.)

by Wieland Schmied

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Austrian artist Hundertwasser (1928 –2000) - One of the most unique artists of the 20th century. His work spans the fields of painting, architecture and environmental protection.

With HUNDERTWASSER, Taschen has published one of the most beautiful art books I have ever seen – hundreds of full color illustrations of the artist’s painting and architecture along with a number of photos of the artist himself. Trust me here, folks, this sumptuous book is a feast for the eyes and inspiration for the soul. The accompanying text, background information on the artist’s life and commentary on the artist’s work, is provided courtesy of art historian and art lover, Wieland Schmied. To share but a small sampling, below are several Wieland Schmied quotes along with my modest comments:

“Hunderwasser went his way alone. He was, literally, what is often called a “rugged individualist.” He never joined a group, a movement, a party. He always made a point of being on the sidelines.” ---------- I can appreciate the artist avoided groups and movements once he became an adult since circumstances forced him as a young boy to escape persecution as a Jew (his mother was Jewish) by joining the Hitler Youth Movement (his father was Catholic).

“It was not easy to communicate with Hundertwasser. He was always lost in thought, a dreamer wrapped up in himself, his thoughts ranging far afield. Sometimes you would have to repeat something three times before he noticed and replied. He could tell a story enthusiastically and suddenly lapse into profound silence.” ---------- Most understandable: in the same spirit as a novelist living in the world of his or her characters, an artist with such a vivid, singular vision would live full time in the swirl of color and form.

“Hundertwasser built new structures or rebuilt existing ones, designing new facades and changing the outward appearance of existing buildings.” ----------- For the artist, all humdrum structures were but raw material for his vast imagination and ability to transform a stock grey world into something more vibrant, organic and teeming with colors.

“Hundertwasser was a living contradiction, an introvert who displayed his inmost feelings to the world – an extroverted introvert, if there is such a thing.” ---------- Hundertwasser possessed two key ingredients for what it means to be a great artist: a fertile interior life and a desire to communicate an ever expanding, explosive vision. Many are the artists and writers I’ve had the opportunity to meet who struck me as just that: extroverted introverts.

“Hundertwasser’s paintings, I felt, radiated an incredible feeling of happiness. Was it the harmony of the colors which so affected me or the joy of inventiveness. Was it the childlike, innocent world view expressed in them or the combination of a fairy-tale atmosphere and elements of the real world?” ---------- To answer your question, Wieland, I think it is a combination of all those qualities that would bring a smile to any viewer’s face: aura of happiness; inventive combination of colors; innocence of a child and craftsmanship of a master.

The artist wrote this: “We extinguish the last true, pristine and many-faceted spark of life that stirs in our children and in ourselves, first with the poison of our educational system and then by conformist dictates. Our educational system is systematic lethal destruction. We are born into a column of grey men marching towards a colorless, trivial collective.” ---------- These words of the artist bring tears to my eyes. In many respects, this was my own experience of education in elementary school right through high school. Hundertwasser created many works of art specifically with children in mind. And if anybody questions just how colorless, monotonous and utilitarian our cityscapes, compare our thousands of cheerless urban apartment boxes with Hundertwasser architecture.

Hundertwasser apartment house in Vienna, Austria

“Hundertwasser loved colors – violent and gentle colors, their intensity, their contrasts, and their harmony. Colors defined his life. He like to surround himself with colors, he collected objects for their colors, he liked to wear colorful socks, colorful belts, colorful scarves and colorful caps, and his ship had colorful sails.” ---------- As striking as the colors are in his prints and on the web, I’m quite sure the colors are that much more potent when seen in person.

‘The spiral had already been prefigured by several motifs – by the way Hundertwasser painted cheeks on his faces, the portholes of steamers, the wheels of buses, lorries, and trams as if they were formed of concentric circles and, finally, by the splendid forms of the trees.” ---------- The spiral was one of the aspects of the artist’s paintings that particularly attracted me when I first had an opportunity to make his acquaintance years ago.

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  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
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