Artists in 60 Seconds: Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Movement, Style, School or Type of Art:


Transautomatism is Hundertwasser's own theoretical creation. He sought to strike a balance between conventional art (with its rigid rules) and Tachism/Art Informel (which had nary a rule). Into the mix went a hefty dose of Surrealism and a controlled automatism - based more on organic thought than mechanical - that included using lots of spirals and discarding straight lines.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Hundertwasser was both founder and sole member of the Transautomatists.

Date and Place of Birth:

December 15, 1928, Vienna

His name at birth was Friedrich Stowasser. Around 1949 he exchanged the Czech "Sto-" (which translates to 'hundred') in his surname for the German "Hundert-" (which also translates to 'hundred'). At this same time, he went from "Friedrich" to "Friedensreich" - effectively becoming "Peace-Kingdom Hundred-Water."


Not content to merely paint and make prints, Hundertwasser was also an architect (uncredentialed) who wrote manifestos, designed posters and stamps, and traveled the globe bringing construction projects to realization and collecting awards. He was also an outspoken proponent of many environmental and anti-nuclear causes. Despite all of this, he is (rightfully) best known for his vibrantly-colored, opulently-decorated paintings and graphic works and his contributions to printmaking technique.

Important Works:

Date and Place of Death:

February 19, 2000, Pacific Ocean (aboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2)

Sources and Further Reading

  • Harel, Joram; Schmied, Wieland. Hundertwasser: Kunsthauswien.
    Köln: Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 2000.
  • Hundertwasser, Friedensreich; Muthesius, Angelika; et. al.
    Hundertwasser Architecture: For a More Human Architecture in Harmony With Nature.
    Köln: Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1997.
  • Restany, Pierre. Hundertwasser.
    Köln: Taschen, 2000 (Revised edition).
  • Schmied, Wieland. Hundertwasser: Catalogue Raisonne.
    Köln: Taschen, 2003.

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