Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (1928-2000)
was an Austrian artist, born as Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna. He became one of the best-known contemporary Austrian artists. His personal and artistic development is mirrored in the four names he gave himself at various stages of his life and which encapsulate his entire work. It was his second name “Hundertwasser” under which he eventually became famous. His original and unruly artistic vision expressed itself in pictorial art, environmentalism, philosophy, and design of façades, postage stamps, flags, and clothing (among other areas). The common themes in his work utilized bright colors, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism, rejecting straight lines. He remains sui generis, although his architectural work is comparable to Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in its use of biomorphic forms and the use of tile. He was also inspired by the art of the Vienna Secession, and by the Austrian painters Egon Schiele (1890–1918) and Gustav Klimt (1862–1918). He was fascinated by spirals, and called straight lines “the devil’s tools”. He called his theory of art “transautomatism”, based on Surrealist automatism, but focusing on the experience of the viewer, rather than the artist.(1)
For Hundertwasser, art was not to be limited by any framework. An artist’s work should have an effect on all areas of life, be it on clothing or, through articles for everyday use, on daily life. Hundertwasser also created many objects intended to express his quest for beauty and for variety in all areas of life, but also his concern and commitment for the environment and for nature. In accordance with his philosophy “Beauty is a Panacea – Schönheit ist ein Allheilmittel”, Hundertwasser wanted to restore beauty and romanticism to their place in everyday life. In a time of mediocrity, of aesthetic emptiness and the soullessness of prefabrication, he endeavoured to help the hidden human longing for variety and beauty in harmony with nature come into its own.(2)
Hundertwasser on Hundertwasser
“It is very strange, isn’t it, if a man contributes all he has, diligence, goodness, perseverance, intelligence, everything that he has, and in spite of that he doesn’t get anywhere. What is the reason for this. I believe, and I am absolutely certain, and therefore I believe, that painting is a religious occupation, that the actual impulse comes from without, from something else that we do not know, an indefinable power which comes or does not come and which guides your hand.
What does a man need in order to be happy. Progression is retrogression and retrogression becomes progression. My painting is, I think, completely different because it is vegetative painting. One reason why other people do not want to paint vegetatively or want to take to a vegetative way of life is because it begins too unpretentiously, it does not have great eclat or drum roll; on the contrary it grows quite slowly and simply, and that does not appeal to our social order, people want instant results based on the slash and burn principle.
I should like, and I do it too quite instinctively, to live an example, live an example to people, paint for them a paradise that each may have, he need only grasp it. Paradise is there, but we destroy it. I want to show how basically simple it is to have paradise on earth.
And everything that the religions and dogmas and the various political creeds promise, is all nonsense. And there of course I come into conflict with society which completely misunderstands that. They believe that it is eccentricity, just a publicity stunt, but they forget that that is part of myself, that that is my natural form of expression.
Why may a human being not do what he needs to do, like a flower. The colourful, the abundant, the manifold, is always better than mediocre grey and uniformity.
Only those who think and live creatively will survive in this life and beyond.”(3)
ARTWORK: THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT*
MEDIA: Mixed media, St. Mandé/Seine, 1950
ARTIST: FRIEDENSREICH HUNDERTWASSER
in collaboration with René Brô
The Austrian painter and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser is probably one of the most unsung, prolific artists of his generation. If one would look closely and ardently curate his body of work, his vivid use of colors encompass and undeniably tantamounts to a mixture of styles influenced by artists Gustav Klimt, Joan Miró, and Antoni Gaudí. Although he first achieved notoriety for his boldly-colored paintings, he is more widely known for his individual architectural designs. His use of spirals and curves and disinterest of using straight lines gives character and distinct signature that is distinguishably Hundertwasser. His works not only utter strong emotions but his colorful renditions of his artistic subjects also portray relevant and timely issues such as nature conservancy and environmental preservation, the drastic and exorbitant exploits brought about by heedless industrialization and human indignation. As I pondered while perusing or digesting his quotes and commentaries that I have researched: Hundertwasser on Hundertwasser, you can tell that he is an artist with a clear and potent mission, conveying delicate topics and issues expressed in his works of art. Hundertwasser’s father Ernst Stowasser died three months after Hunderwasser’s first birthday. The Second World War was a hard time for Hundertwasser and his mother Elsa, as she was Jewish. They avoided persecution by posing as Christians, a credible ruse because Hundertwasser’s father had been a Catholic. To remain inconspicuous, Hundertwasser joined the Hitler Youth.
Hundertwasser developed artistic skills very early. 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; they became lifelong friends. His alliance and teamwork with Brô can be attested to above shown artwork: The Miraculous Draught circa.1950.
Hundertwasser’s The Miraculous Draught can be considered classic and not trendy as it depicts present day or prevailing global aura but can also be crossed referenced or associated to a previous classical artwork. The Miraculous Draught might have been an inspiration to Raphael’s: The Miraculous Draught of Fishes (see image below). All of Hundertwasser’s artwork illustrated in this study (Plant Trees Avert Nuclear Peril, Survival or Suicide Rainforest and The Miraculous Draught) are reminders of the past and slogans of the present imparting sociopolitical connotation and religious undertone that’s persistent and timeless.
ARTWORK: THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT OF FISHES(4)
MEDIA: bodycolour on paper on canvas, 1515
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Taking into account Heidegger’s discourse on Van Gogh’s painting of “A Pair of Shoes,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy concludes: “The longstanding controversy can finally be resolved, however, once we realize that Heidegger’s phenomenological interpretation of Van Gogh actually follows a different sequence of steps. As we have seen, Heidegger moves from: (1) experiencing an objective painting of unused shoes (in the standard aesthetic way); to (2) noticing and attending to the dynamic “nothing” in the background of the painting and thereby (3) encountering the earth/world struggle implicit in the work; to finally (4) intimating, from this earth/world struggle, what a farmer’s inconspicuous use of shoes as equipment is like. The trick Schapiro misses (along with most other readers of Heidegger’s famous essay) is that attending to the “nothing” that makes itself visible in the background of Van Gogh’s painting allows us to encounter the essential tension between world and earth for ourselves, and it is this encounter—with the tension between that which comes forth into the light (“world”) and that which nurtures this coming forth and yet also shelters itself in the darkness (“earth”)—that allows us to understand, as though from the inside, what it is like to walk in the shoes of a farmer.”(5)
ARTWORK: A PAIR OF SHOES
MEDIA: painting, oil on canvas, Paris, 1887
ARTIST: VINCENT VAN GOGH
The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Cone Collection
Just as the observer of Van Gogh’s “A Pair of Shoes” and that subsequent feeling “to walk in the shoes of a farmer”, Hundertwasser’s major art objective which is “focusing on the experience of the viewer, rather than the artist”, The Miraculous Draught and the two earlier illustrations gives us a conscious or subconscious experience and awareness of what the paintings or artworks are conveying. Hundertwassers’s cautionary tale expressed on his paintings underscored by reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism as well as “rejecting straight line”. These are the truths that are illuminated and set to work through Hundertwasser’s works of art. For Hundertwasser, human misery was a result of the rational, sterile, monotonous architecture. That planting trees in an urban environment was to become obligatory: “If man walks in nature’s midst, then he is nature’s guest and must learn to behave as a well-brought-up guest.” as quoted in his 1972 published manifesto.
Through Hundertwasser’s artworks, I am “suddenly somewhere else” in nature and contemplating of what future lies ahead for me and the generations to come if humanity neglects to do some drastic measures to live and be in harmony with it’s habitat. With the constant pace of global abuse both in nature and in human interactions worldwide, are we heading or facing a global geopolitical Miraculous Draught or are we just simply waiting for a Nuclear Peril. Am I presently existing in a world trying to make means and ways to survive or just on a slow suicide mode of social and moral disintegration. These are some of the insightful messages, interpretations and the “ultimate truth”, for obvious reasons, Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s art trajects to me and to the rest of the world.
(1) Wikipedia, Artistic Style and Themes, Friedensreich Hundertwasser*
(2) Hundertwasser, Applied Art, The Hundertwasswer Non-Profit Foundation*
(3) Hundertwasser, Venice 1979, excerpts from Hundertwasser on Hundertwasser*
(4) Art and the Bible, VAM London 1515, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes
(5) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Conclusion: Resolving the Controversy Surrounding Heidegger’s Interpretation of Van Gogh, 2011
*All Hundertwasswer images and indexed texts hereto are attributed to The Hundertwasser Non-Profit Foundation and referenced for educational purposes only. Ownership of images are properties of The Hundertwasswer Non-Profit Foundation and solely used for discourse, research and academic intent alone.
- 14th May
- 13th May
REBEL WITH A CAUSE
Art (including Architecture and Fashion), Science (as well as areas of Technology and Medicine) and Religion (all aspects of spiritual beliefs, mysticism and even mythology) have influenced me and topics revolving around these subject matters always fascinate and capture my interests. Relative to these subjects, I am drawn to the theories, explore the facts or fictions, thrilled with new technological gadgets or breaking discoveries and ruminate into the lives of prominent people and experts practicing or connected to such fields. So it is not just one person that I would consider as an exemplary figure but my icons of innovation and creativity are quite a few. I will highlight at least one figure that has significant touch-points to my subjects of interest and will break down why such individuals make a deep-rooted impression on me, their style, background and symbol of leadership, and some of the radical approach or indelible virtues that they believed in and have stood by with which I would like to adopt, emulate or develop within me.
JESUS OF NAZARETH: When asked why Jesus is still considered cool in the eyes of young people, Eric Bryant, a pastor at Mosaic in L.A., said: “They’re intrigued by Jesus. They look to him. He is real, authentic, relevant. He spoke with honesty. He was a man on a mission. He was a radical, a revolutionary, yet tender and kind and loving. He was doing things completely against the rules of the day. He was a mix of justice, kindness, judgment and grace.” Jesus not only taught about great compassion but has also rebelled. An excerpt of an article: Jesus the Rebel, by Jeremy Crump best described such religious rebellion. “It might surprise you to think of Jesus as a rebel. Popular conceptions of our Lord tend to soften him up and send a message that Jesus was someone who never caused a stir or upset anybody but was loved and adored by all. This was certainly not the case. The real Jesus made troubling statements such as “I came to bring peace and not a sword.” In fact, Jesus was hated by most and came into conflict with almost everyone he interacted with for the doctrine of moral purity and humble submission to God that he preached. Nowhere is this more obvious than in his encounters with the religious leaders of his day. Jesus stirred up trouble by healing on the Sabbath day and not keeping the traditions of the Pharisees such as hand washing. He made a point of exposing the hypocrisy and self-serving behavior of the Pharisees and warned his disciples not to follow their example. During the Passover festival, Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and drove them out of the temple with a whip. Jesus’ rebellion against the religious establishment at Jerusalem created a large following of Christians after his resurrection that threatened Judaism. Christians spread throughout the ancient world, causing trouble wherever they went because of their refusal to worship idols and engage in immorality. This “rebellion” has now infiltrated every country in the world. It has lasted for 2,000 years and shows no signs of diminishing.1
VINCENT VAN GOGH: An artist that have lived a tumultuous and tormented life,
his paintings and drawings exudes passion, full of emotions and vibrant colors. At one point, the people on the village of Arles, France where Vincent lived, practiced art and where he spent his most creative moments during the period of his art career, thought they had too much of the bewildered artist and signed a village petition stating that the artist was a public danger. “Several key paintings dating from his arrival in Paris in 1886 to the end of his career in 1890 show how Van Gogh experimented with unusual visual angles and the decorative use of color, cropping, and the flattening of his compositions. In some paintings he zoomed in on a tuft of grass or a single budding iris, while depicting shifting views of a field or garden in others not only reveals how his paintings became the most radical and innovative in the artist’s body of work but also demonstrates that, far from being a spontaneous or undisciplined artist, Van Gogh was well aware of the history of art and was highly conscious of his efforts to break new ground with his work”2 according to Cornelia Homburg, author and editor of Van Gogh: Up Close. Vincent Van Gogh has rebelled against Impressionism era and have brought a new way of looking at art, created his own distinguishable identity of color palettes, brushstrokes and art style that were emblem of the “mad genius”.
STEVE JOBS: During a television interview filmed in 1995 (Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview), Jobs was at his niche-company NeXT wherein 18 months later, he sold NeXT to Apple, bounced back to lead and run the close-to-failing Apple again; he had an unabashed and somewhat rebellious comment about his business counterparts. When asked about what he thinks about Microsoft, which during that time, Microsoft was dominating the computing world; he quoted that: “Microsoft had absolutely no taste. They don’t think of original ideas and don’t bring much culture into their products. Saddened not with Microsoft’s success but the idea that they (Microsoft) make third-rate products and that their products (and in turn, their customers) have no sort of spirit of enlightenment about them.” Speaking further about this critique, he uttered a comment that truly enthralled and inspired me, stating: “The way that we’re gonna ratchet it up our species is to take the best and to spread it around to everybody so that everybody grows up with better things.”3 He was also rebelling against the lack of leadership in Apple which caused the downward slope of Apple, the company he once pioneered. His constant dissent to conformity, to “think different” and always pushing forward for the need to continuously innovate and bring products with high quality. He was exposed and got captivated by computers since the age of 10 building frequency counters which landed him a side job at Hewlett Packard and realizing that the true value of a company is through it’s employees. From building a box for the “secret tones” that taps in through the phone lines discovering how to make free phone calls up to bringing revolutionary computers, electronic gadgets, media devices and other technologically advanced products that our modern day world is now utilizing. With his radical way of thinking, packed with deep emotional intelligence, Steve Jobs is among the role models of my generation, a remarkable pillar and a forefront of innovation, creativity and great leadership.
Christ, van Gogh, and Jobs are great examples of radical synthesis and rebellion. These larger-than-life figures never compromised nor stooped down whether they were breaking the rule of Impressionist Art and setting own style of painting; for not settling nor being satisfied with “Just a Pedestrian” and third-rate products and unapologetically challenging traditional business and corporate folklore. By speaking fervently, not just preaching but also by doing, defying or breaking religious traditions and not following doctrines and dogmas show that these icons of innovations and creativity did not adhere to general social expectations, norms nor values imposed to them by the mass or society.
Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Charlie Chaplin, Alexander McQueen are also some of the personalities I admired and do look up to. They are all pioneers of creativity, great inventors and innovators, radical thinkers and doers that express and channel their cause and passion through Science, Art, Religion and all other areas that affect if not significantly influenced me. They push through the boundaries of conventional or traditional ideology and break out of the cycle to what is stereotypical. They, in one way or another, have been alienated and struggled through life, considered a failure, tagged as too wrapped up in their own inventions and even accused as public danger, blasphemer or overenthusiastic wacky oddballs. Nevertheless, these exemplary models’ unwavering mission, audacious and relentless pursuit to carryout with their radical ideas, innovations and creativity bring forth a breath of fresh air and inspiration to humanity. It isn’t such a bad idea to follow the rules and virtues that these icons have established during their time, integrate all the good things you can emulate from them and use them to develop and realize your own potentials. And along with the great rules adopted from role models, setting your own identity is vital. Adding your own creative style, discovering and applying your own set of rules in addition to what you can adopt from your role models not only preclude being a leader but enhances your creative and innovative skills. As Steve Jobs dauntingly put it… “take the best and spread it around”.
1 Jeremy Crump, Jesus the Rebel, Church of Christ at Fairview Park, 2013
2 Cornelia Homburg, Van Gogh: Up Close, Overview, 2012
3 Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview, Magnolia Pictures & NerdTV, 1995
“I ONCE DREAMED OF GREAT VOYAGES AND ABOUT CHANGING THE WORLD. How? I have suppressed money, and poverty, and leave only justice.” - Korczak
- 6th May
- 6th May
- 2nd May
- 20th April
- 5th April
- 2nd March
- 7th January
- 12th December
- 4th December
The Great Society asks not how much, but how good; not only how to create wealth but how to use it; not only how fast we are going, but where we are headed.Lyndon Johnson’s State of the Union Address, Proposing “the Great Society” Program given on Monday, January 4, 1965
- 16th June
Dedicated to the things that haven’t happened yet and the people who are about to dream them up.Stanford Graduate School of Business cornerstone
- 5th May
- 29th April
I’M AS MAD AS HELL AND I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! And that painful decaying love is the only thing between you and the shrieking nothingness you live the rest of the day. Indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. The daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split-seconds and instant replays. Virulent madness. Everything you touch dies with you. Well, not me. NOT WHILE I CAN STILL FEEL PLEASURE AND PAIN AND LOVE.Excerpts: Network (1976)
- 21st April
Coup de Grace
Sine qua non