Friedensreich Hundertwasser

friedensreich hundertwasser three eyed green buddha with hat c1963

Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (December 15, 1928 – February 19, 2000) was an Austrian artist (who later took on New Zealand citizenship). Born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna, he became one of the best-known contemporary Austrian artists, although controversial, by the end of the 20th century.

The Second World War was a difficult time for Hundertwasser and his mother Elsa, who was Jewish. They avoided persecution by posing as Christians, a credible ruse as Hundertwasser’s father had been a Catholic. To remain inconspicuous Hundertwasser joined the Hitler Youth.[1]

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Hundertwasser developed artistic skills early on. After the war, he spent three months at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. At this time he began to sign his art as Hundertwasser instead of Stowasser. He left to travel using a small set of paints he carried at all times to sketch anything that caught his eye. In Florence he met the young French painter René Brô for the first time and they became lifelong friends. Hundertwasser’s first commercial painting success was in 1952−53 with an exhibition in Vienna.

His adopted surname is based on the translation of “sto” (the Slavic word for “(one) hundred”) into German. The name Friedensreich has a double meaning as “Peaceland” or “Peace-rich” (in the sense of “peaceful”). Therefore his name Friedensreich Hundertwasser translates directly into English as “Peace-Kingdom Hundred-Water”. The other names he chose for himself, Regentag and Dunkelbunt, translate to “Rainy day” and “Darkly multi-coloured”.

Hundertwasser married Herta Leitner in 1958 but they divorced two years later. He married again in 1962 to the Japanese artist Yuko Ikewada but she divorced him in 1966. He had gained a popular reputation by this time for his art.

Beginning in the early 1950s, he entered the field of architecture. Hundertwasser also worked in the field of applied art, creating flags, stamps, coins, and posters. His most famous flag is the Koru Flag, as well as several postage stamps for the Austrian Post Office. He also designed stamps for Cape Verde and for the United Nations postal administration in Geneva on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedensreich_Hundertwasser]

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Hundertwasser the Great

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