Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Feature: Hundertwasser

Abstract by Hundertwasser
Another awesome dead artist to honor, Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

To express his distaste for unnaturally structured society, Hundertwasser renounced the straight line.  His paintings are spontaneously abstract and colorful.  In architecture he pushed organic shape to the edge and planted trees on the tops of buildings.  

Hundertwasser Building
 How can I not admire this out of the box, environmentalist who had no qualms about taking his clothes off in public?  He was rad I tell you.

Here is his story...

In 1928 Friedensreich Stowasser was born in Vienna, Austria.  His mother was Jewish and his father was Catholic.  During World War II Friedensreich and his mother lived in fear that the Nazis would discover their Jewish heritage.  After seeing the geometric marching formations of the Nazi soldiers Friedensreich grew to detest the straight line.  To him the straight line represented oppressive totalitarian governments.  When he later became a painter and architect he incorporated organic flowing lines into his work instead.
Friedensreich wanted to encourage life to be free from oppression and more sync with nature.  When he designed buildings he used no straight lines and put trees on the rooftops.  He felt that if trees had to be torn down to build a building people should replace them on the tops of buildings.  He felt that the closer humans are to nature the closer they are to their true selves.  He wanted for buildings to fit the  human body and cater to its needs.
Friedensreich changed his name several times.  He became most well-known under the name “Hundertwasser” which means one hundred waters.  He also went by the names “Renentag” which means rainy day and “Dunkelbunt" which means darkly multi-colored. 

Thoughts:  Hundertwasser is best known for turning things upside down in a revolutionary way.  He brought a breath of fresh air to the world of architecture.  He wasn’t afraid of changing his name, splashing bright paint everywhere and even taking his clothes off in public!  Sometimes when someone has experienced extreme oppression and seen the horrible consequences of it they can open our eyes to new ways of seeing the world, changing it for the better.   

Classroom Ideas:  For painting projects students can create designs using no straight lines but spirals and circles inspired by Hundertwasser’s work.  I’ve also done an architecture lesson with children where we redesigned our elementary school.  The school had no playground because it is in the inner city of Indianapolis so many of the students added playground equipment to their designs.  Imagine our delight when the next year the school was renovated to include a playground on the roof!  Hundertwasser would have been proud

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