Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Dear Aberbach,
for three months I have been back in my paradise, where the trees, which I planted, have already become forests in which one can walk. I am working on four paintings, which testify even more intensely to my vegetative way of painting. It is this, which distinguishes me from other painters.I do not paint expressive or imitative as has become fashionable today — still fashionable, but vegetative — a way of expression of the future ecological (sic!) age, which is beginning now. This will be understood only in ten years or after one generation. For now, one judges my paintings according to their optical appearance as though they were expressive-imitative, and not according their actual content, which has emerged authentically, creatively, organically, vegetatively, magically.

I am of good cheer, because I know about my importance as a signpost to a peace treaty with nature. One of the most important points regarding the peace treaty with nature is the reunion of the creation of nature and the creation of man, which has been separated for centuries (for instance in the notion Natural History Museum versus Art Historical Museum).

Art must form a bridge to nature and not become even more artificial, i.e. distance itself even more from true Creation. If the art-forming process is already infringing upon the laws of self-creative nature, the result cannot be a work of art in the sense of Creation. If the building blocks are wrong, no good building can originate.
This process of creative becoming and responsible evolution is very slow and in its beginning stage seemingly inconspicuous like a very young tree. I am also trying to consequently reconcile my painting and my life, my works and my activities.


It is interesting what Julien Alvard wrote in 1954 in Paris on the occasion of my exhibition at Facchetti: Il faut beaucoup de sérieux pour mener à bien l’ironie d’une telle entreprise. Et beaucoup de sens moral pour l’apprécier. Mais ce sérieux lui sera compté pour folie, cette folie pour calcul, ce calcul pour préméditation. C’est tout à son honneur... [It requires a great seriousness to transform the irony of such an enterprise into virtue, and a vigorous moral sincerity to be able to appreciate it. But his seriousness was interpreted as craziness, the craziness as expediency, and the expediency as premeditated…] I am a happy man, because all my activities are focused on one goal and reconciled there.

1. Painting
Here I am working on four paintings: Point de vue chinois, Immigration of an Amphibian Car, Veena (Cyclone in Tahiti), Das Autokreuz [The Car Cross] (which is a further development of The Crucified of the Road). At the same time on three Japanese woodcuts in close collaboration with Japanese masters in Kyoto and Tokyo: Hüte tragen Tennos [Tennos Fly with Hats], Automobil im Regen [Automobile in the Rain], Das Ende der Wasser [The End of the Waters]. The Japanese cut the woodblocks according to my instructions. But my big bomb I let explode before my departure from Venice: I succeeded to produce with silk screen printing an edition of 10,002 sheets, of which each sheet is different than the other!!! “Homo Humus How Do You Do 860 10002 Nights.” The sheets of this edition are as unique as the leaves of a tree. An edition, comprising unique copies. „A victory of man over chain production, using the reproductive machine to produce creative individuality. A big step towards the liberation of mankind from the worst enslavement in history: the machine made terror.” I include a brochure.

I have won an unbelievable victory in New Zealand. I have succeeded in receiving permission from the N.Z. government to be buried on my land. This is a first concrete step towards a revolution in the context of the peace treaty with nature and a first acknowledgement. The cemeteries of the future will be “Nature reserves”, without walls. The dead will be buried only as deep as the trees planted on the graves can profit from the deceased. The dead do not die, but continue to live on in the form of trees. An actual rebirth, a veritable resurrection takes place. Cemeteries will turn into forests of life. Today, however, burial is a sacrilege against ecology, against life, against the circular flow, against rebirth, against the cosmic laws of nature. Today, a wedge, a concrete wall is placed between death and life. A four-meter grave so that no root can reach in, hermetically sealed caskets, in which the remains do nothing but rot instead of providing nourishment for life. The natural vegetation on the grave itself is violated by lawn, plastic flowers, concrete covers. 

In my “cemetery” nature can grow as it pleases. Even dying trees are not removed, but abandoned to God’s will until the falling branches and stems have turned to humus, giving new life a foundation. Such a cemetery is a piece of virgin forest. A piece of nature we return. 
A piece of territory which man has illegally occupied is given back to nature.

I have designed a flag for New Zealand. Attached I am sending a photocopy of the first draft. I already have the support of several secretaries and important personalities. New Zealand is already searching for a new symbol. I know it will be a great, interesting battle. This flag, too, is part of the “peace treaty with nature.”

My activity as an “architecture doctor” is presently reaching a first climax in Vienna. On July 9th the topping-out ceremony for the “Hundertwasser House” in the Löwengasse takes place. After a five-year battle I have succeeded in constructing a house for fifty families, which completely turns its back at the “Bauhaus mentality”. The inhabitants’ “window right” is instituted for the first time! As an advance to the window right all windows have a different size and have been installed in different places, not like soldiers directly one above the other or side by side. The walls are not machine-smooth, but have been formed rather irregularly by hand. 
On all roofs grow trees and grass. Three tree-tenants grow from three windows. The house attains a romantic character through onion towers and mosaic inlays, which I designed. Each apartment is different from the others; this is recognizable on the exterior walls. The skyline is not geometrically straight. There is a large hall which is designed as a winter garden, a pedestrian mall and much more. The house is also part of the peace treaty with nature: a “house in harmony with nature and man”. I am including a flyer of the Community of Vienna.

My activities as the head of a master school at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna have proved a really great success. Already now, it is the best school in the Academy. Whole delegations, school classes, visitors from everywhere arrive in order to visit it. In the beginning there were scandals because I had to take over a school, firing students and people who considered the Academy a shelter for the creatively disabled, who hung around the school only because they had paid tuition fees; also because I transformed the school into a forest.

Just imagine: The head of the “Master School Hundertwasser” is almost always absent, passing the lecture activities to trees and plants, which he brought from the Palm House and installed in the school. My absence creates my presence! And the calculation works out. Seven excellent masters have educated themselves in this atmosphere steeped with creativity where even the oxygen-enriched air is by far better than in the other painting classes:

Karin Köppl            fairytale world
Markus Schiller       a young visionary
Christian Rausch     a new Schiele, however quite different
Bruno Richard        a true naïve, a Frenchman
Anna Stangl            animated landscapes
Martina Hanadou    narrative painting reminiscent of hieroglyphic writing
Maria Trummer      a very young realist

None of them imitates Hundertwasser or anybody else! 
An unbelievable victory through a completely new teaching method.
I will later send reproductions united in a calendar.

Apart from the giant trees my school also contains two plant-water purification plants. These are water plants arranged in cascades on top of each that purify the sewage water, rippling gently like a brook while the water passes through them, resulting in half an hour “Bach music” [Bach = brook; notice the subtle pun!].

Furthermore I have established within my teaching position a chair entitled “Nature — Art —Creation” where renowned scientists, Nobel Prize Winners contribute their views on the topic of the reunification of art and nature.

Dear friend Aberbach,

You see why I can be actually content with and proud of myself. 
I am always glad if that, which is interpreted by others in regard to me as “publicity activity”, eventually prove as very, very serious, in fact pioneer activities necessary for the future, and when I succeed to create ever new activities almost always discredited as dishonourable or even profit-oriented schemings.

Dear friend Aberbach,

I am happy to communicate to you as almost the only person a detailed survey of my latest activities. 
I am glad that we have remained friends for so many years. 
Please do not forget to send me an exact list of the paintings that were transferred from the Aberbach Collection to other collections, including detailed information on the new owners and their addresses. 
You know how much I am psychically connected with my works, which I consider my children. This was also a condition when I parted from my paintings. Please in the interest of our long and future friendship!
Have paintings of mine been damaged or destroyed during the fire in your brother’s house in Paris?

The night has fallen in the Kaurinui valley.
The new flags flow on three flag poles.

Cordially yours
Greetings to your wife and your children.


Written in Kaurinui Valley on 28 March 1983 for the book by Walter Schurian (ed.), Hundertwasser – Schöne Wege, Gedanken über Kunst und Leben (Hundertwasser – Beautiful Paths, Thoughts on Art and Life), Munich, 1983

Published in:

Schurian, Walter (ed.): Hundertwasser - Schöne Wege, Gedanken über Kunst und Leben. (Beautiful Paths - Thoughts on Art and Life) Munich: Langen Müller Verlag, 2004, pp. 66-70 (German)