Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was born in Vienna in 1928 as Friedrich Stowasser. He initially gained acclaim for his paintings, but is currently more renowned for his unique architectural stylings. His revolutionary ecological stands with regard to architecture have earned him the nickname "Architecture-Healer." His works have been used for flags and stamps, coins and posters, schools and churches. 

In his youth, Hundertwasser attended a Montessori school in Vienna, which influenced both his affinity for vibrant colors and respect of nature. He collected pebbles and pressed flowers as a child, demonstrating an interest in items that are precious and small at an early age, which later manifested itself in his collections of Venetian glass and Japanese fabrics.

Hundertwasser's only formal artistic training was during a three month study at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna in 1948. The next year he changed his name to Friedensreich Hundertwasser, which means "Peace-Kingdom Hundred-Water." Both names are uncommon in German speaking countries.

Hundertwasser has a home in Venice across from the Piazza San Marco. The city provides a unique inspiration for his art. The ever present water yields patterns and reflections in the colorful light, the clothes that hang from windows offer the eye a dizzying array of jumbled colors, and the natural aging of the buildings make mold and decay strangely beautiful. Hundertwasser has drawn inspiration from Arabic music and the underlying harmonies of nature. In both of these fields, he relishes their apparent irregularities and accidental qualities. A copy of Gustav Klimt's "Kiss" and Egon Schiele's "Self Portrait" hang in Hundertwasser's home, giving physical representation to the admiration which he has expressed both in word and through his art.

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Hundertwasser follows in the tradition of the Viennese Seccesionstil which was the Austrian expression of the French Art Nouveau and German Jugendstil, continuing their purpose of employing art as decoration. His richness of surface and use of color suggest Klimt, while his scrubbed brushstrokes and moldy colors are reminiscent of Schiele. Hundertwasser's painting has been described as heavy, rigid, archaic and primitive. It is ironic that his deep awareness of the need for humanistic primitivism stems from a high degree of intellectual sophistication. This primitivism has been seen mostly through his use of color and line.

Hundertwasser can be considered ...

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