Hundertwasser: Everyman's Artist
December 16, 2004
Here's an art book that's larger than life. Sure, Hundertwasser's art is cool. But I like his architecture more. And, really, the things he did and his wild ideas even more yet.
He's a guy who grew up poor and who wanted to be an artist, so he moved to Paris and lived on 50¢ a week in the 1950's. He has some great writing here about how he did it. Actually, he ended up his years of utter privation with more money than he started them, like with $20. He lived beyond cheap, but he lived large. One of the biggest things he did was to hitchhike out to the end of town every week or so and work a day on a farm in exchange for a bag of wheat. He said he could make a dozen very differing recipes from wheat berries. He said he ate like a king. Where there's a will there's a way.
He was one of the first environmentalists, in the 1950's, in Vienna. Considered crazy, of course. He changed his name a few times in his life, I think. He thought that people should be composted and he was one of the first promoters of the composting toilet in the West. He started riots. He'd give speeches in the nude. This was before the hippy days. He wore mismatching socks his whole life. He advocated that renters should be able to change their apartments, including as far around the windows as they could reach, and if the next tenant approved their changes, the changes could stay. He started putting trees and grass on building roofs. He did many amazing reclamations and renovations of things like factories, turning them into amazing apartments. He'd take a rigid, square factory and give it wild, bloopy paintjobs and trim details---he'd turn it into something organic.
The academics and critics hated him but his art started selling. He got so that he hated cities so much that he bought a ship and lived on that on the rivers of Europe. He'd sail up to Paris and not come off his ship, which was named Regentag (a name he used for himself as well). He'd do the paintings for a show while on board, then deliver them, sell them, and sail away. It drove the critics furious, apparently.
He was a fan of the tropics and sailed to Tahiti and New Zealand. He created new flags for NZ and Oz---which are still very popular to this day.
Sure, he was a singular person, an eccentric. But it was more like he stood up for humanity and life and never gave up or backed down to the authorities. In this way I think he connects to everyone and anyone except those with badges or those who want to stop life.
(You, of course, note the lack of academia, grants and education in our likely lad's background. Why else did he amount to anything?)
What a story!
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