Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928–2000) was an Austrian artist and designer whose passion for spirals and arabesque lines was largely inspired by Viennese Secessionists like Gustav Klimt. “Today we live in a chaos of straight lines, in a jungle of straight lines,” he critiqued of the man-made world. “If you do not believe this, take the trouble to count the straight lines which surround you. Then you will understand, for you will never finish counting.” Born Friedensreich Stowasser in Vienna, Austria, he and his mother barely avoided persecution from the Nazi regime during World War II. After the war, the artist briefly enrolled in the Vienna Academy of Art before dropping out to travel extensively throughout Europe and Asia. As a designer in the 1950s, he undertook several large-scale architectural projects, including his famed Hundertwasserhaus. In the early 1970s, Hundertwasser purchased a number of properties in New Zealand where he would live out the remainder of his career. An outspoken activist against nuclear technology and pollution, the artist continued his involvement through the following decades. Hundertwasser died while aboard the Queen Elizabeth II on its voyage from New Zealand to Europe. Today, his works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others.

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