There Are No Evils in Nature.
There Are Only Evils of Man.
“When man thinks he has to correct nature, it is an irreparable mistake every time. A community should not consider it an honour how much spontaneous vegetation it destroys; it should rather be a point of honour for every community to protect as much of its natural landscape as possible.The brook, the river, the swamp, the riverside wetlands as they are, the way God created them, must be sacred and inviolable to us. Correcting a stream only has evil effects, which are expensive in the end: the lowering of water tables, the destruction of forests, the transformation of large areas into steppes, no regeneration of the water, which runs off too fast. The river wetlands can no longer fulfill their sponge-like function: the absorption of excess water and slow feedback in dry spells, like a good piggy bank in times of emergency. The regulated brook becomes a sewer. Fish die, and there are no fish in the brook because they cannot swim through the regulated channel. Floods, with all their devastating consequences, all the more after regulation. Because too much water runs off too quickly, converging in great quantity without any chance of being absorbed by the earth and the vegetation. Only a stream with a high waterline flowing irregularly can produce pure water, regulate the water household and conserve the fish and animal populations to the benefit of man and his agriculture. Now, almost too late, this age-old adage is being recognised and the courses of rivers and streams, which had been straightened in concrete channels, are being destroyed in order to restore the previous irregular state. What irony! So why regulate a stream if you have to deregulate it afterwards?” Hundertwasser, May 1990
Who was Hundertwasser?
Der Meister on Flickr – Photo Sharing! Mosaic Portrait – Hundertwasser
Friedensreich Hundertwasser (December 15, 1928 – February 19, 2000) was an Austrian painter and sculptor. By the end of the 20th century, he was arguably the best-known living Austrian artist, though he was always controversial.
He was born Friedrich Stowasser to a Jewish family in Vienna and attended the Montessori school in 1936. Before he was twenty, all of his relatives on his mother’s side were killed in the Holocaust. He briefly attended the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1948 and began producing his own works in the late 1940s.
Hundertwasser’s original, unruly, sometimes shocking artistic vision expressed itself in pictorial art, environmentalism, philosophy, and design of facades, postage stamps, flags, and clothing (among other areas). The common themes in his work are a rejection of the straight line, bright colours, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism. He remains sui generis, although his architectural work is comparable to Antoni Gaudí in its biomorphic forms and use of tile. He was inspired by the works of Egon Schiele from an early date, and his style was often compared to that of Gustav Klimt. He was fascinated with 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.
His adopted surname is based on the translation of Sto (the Czech word for “hundred”) into German. The name Friedensreich has a double meaning as “Peaceland” or “Peacerich” (in the sense of ‘peaceful’). The other names he chose for himself, Regentag and Dunkelbunt, translate to “Rainy day” and “Dark, multicoloured”. His name Friedensreich Hundertwasser means, “Peace-Kingdom Hundred-Water”.
Although Hundertwasser first achieved notoriety for his boldly-coloured paintings, he is more widely renowned today for his revolutionary architectural designs, which incorporate natural features of the landscape, and use of irregular forms in his building design. Hundertwasserhaus, a low-income apartment block in Vienna, features undulating floors (“an uneven floor is a melody to the feet”), a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows. He took no payment for the design of Hundertwasserhaus, declaring that it was worth it, to “prevent something ugly from going up in its place”.
Hundertwasser considered New Zealand as his official home, and no matter where he went in the world, his watch was always set to New Zealand time. That finally became the place he was buried after his death at sea in 2000.
Hundertwasser House. Built in the early 80’s with charming uneven floors and an eco-friendly grass roof. The artist who designed it free of charge wanted to make sure something “ugly” wasn’t erected.
“If we do not honor our past
we lose our future.
If we destroy our roots
we cannot grow.”