Friedensreich Hundertwasser

I don’t care if I look ridiculous or not. I’m fully aware of that. I live in a kind of golden tower, I’m fed up that only I live there and that I am well off and that I am happy that everything is made of cobalt and silver. And when I look outside, I see that everything is full of ruled and T-squared misery and everybody is imprisoned, and that is so terrible that it spoils everything for me. I would much prefer looking out somewhere and seeing that it is beautiful everywhere, and it would be important for people to start building their castles themselves. For if they don’t do that once and for all, I don’t know what is to become of it all.

I personally grow ill when I walk through the streets, which are all the same and where the windows are all the same. I personally can’t stand that any longer. And I am surprised that people walk through these streets every day, all of them straight like rulers, and that nobody protests. And I find that the two last revolutions are over and they’ve made it – the revolution against hunger and the revolution for freedom – and just the same nothing works anymore. And now an enslavement is beginning which is worse than the ones we have experienced so far.

The next revolution will be the one when people rebel against these straight things and this manufacturing which not even the machine wants to do. Three days ago I realised that the machine itself doesn’t want to be constantly used to produce things on an assembly line. A machine makes so many rejects, the individual rejects of a machine often exceed the objects which are all identical and ready for use. Just one small adjustment on the machine, and it is capable of producing bottles or plates which are all different. The machine only wants what man wants. If man wants it to make idiotic things, it does, and if man wants it to make beautiful things, it does that. Man shouldn’t adjust to the machine, but the machine to man. The first thing to do, when a machine is bought, is give it a kick so that it is different from the others. How can man live with these things which are all the same? Are you all so lame-brained that you put up with that? I don’t understand how you take all that without a murmur and don’t rebel against it. For this revolution will come, people will no longer accept that.

There is no point in a couple of artists doing something worthwhile and not the all the people, as I said before. It is embarrassing that I, only me all the time, and this and that person, only a very few, do anything. When I look out of the window, I would like to see that something beautiful is happening. I mean that out of pure egoism.

We live in buildings which are criminal and which were built by architects who are really criminals. And I can prove that. If you stunt a child’s growth, it is something very similar. There are child prodigies they give pills to so they stay small. That is a criminal act: so they stay that small and don’t get bigger. Architecture should not start growing until people move in and not vice versa.

There is a kind of protest against this kind of architecture: you don’t have to use this architecture, you know, you don’t have to enter it. You go to the next telephone booth, call up, and say, “I’m not going into this building, the man should come out and we’d do better to meet in a Baroque pavilion or under a tree.” I am against the use of drugs. For the people who take drugs are the ones who live in a dream, and the objects remain arrested in their dreams. It is better, when a new order is being erected, to do this in a sober state.

I have the feeling that I am living amongst a bunch of lame-brains, a bunch of poisoned slaves who do nothing. What I would like best to do is nothing and instead watch what the other people do. I have a definite feeling for how life should be and how paradise should be. I would much prefer to sit in a chair and look at paradise, but since it is not taking shape and doesn’t want to, I unfortunately have to do it myself.

For example, I cannot understand that people live in these prisons – I keep coming back to this – and don’t rebel against them. It would be so simple; after all, they only need to paint something around the windows or put in some mosaics. The younger generation is already doing this. It won’t go along with it. Today’s fifteen- and sixteen-years-olds are not going along with it. They can’t change architecture yet, for they are not yet permitted to do so. There is an authority for that which prevents this no matter what. Only some architects or other with diplomas may do anything. And these architects, like everybody who has gone to university, are so over-educated... By virtue of the machinery they have been through they are no longer capable of conceiving an idea of their own. They are legally qualified but are totally incapable of thinking creatively, and these people are responsible for us all.

In this world it is like this: if you put a crown on your head, you are king, and if you put on two, you’re the emperor. Why don’t the people put on a crown? Because they are too cowardly to be kings.

They don’t even have the nerve to stick their nose out the window, they don’t even have the nerve to tack a thumbtack in the wall – for fear of losing their lease.

And it is so simple, at that.

I guarantee you I can transform the appearance of the city of Munich in five hours in a way that you wouldn’t recognise it. All that would have to happen is for everyone to consciously lean out the window and do something. All they have to do is undress or draw a line outside.

All it takes is for a man to walk through an ugly street like that with a hat fifteen meters high, and immediately the architecture is changed for the time he needs to walk through this street.

All it takes is for a car which has been changed somehow – with a superstructure or a pretty flag – to drive through these mass-produced things, and as long as the car is passing through, the architecture is changed. That is the proof. A single person can change the architecture just by being present. The city’s appearance will be all the more changed if everybody does it. Why do we have Carnival once a year? Isn’t it so that these people can let off steam, these fools, isn’t it because they don’t have the nerve to behave in everyday life the way they do at Carnival? At Carnival everybody does as they like, don’t they? I know, you think maybe this manifestation is some sort of Carnival prank, but it isn’t. It is dead serious. I am sure, I am convinced that this day will go down in history, that as of today a new age has dawned.

The only possibility is to incite people to the new revolution. If they are too dumb to get the idea themselves, they have to be told that they are fools. You, too. You go to work with a necktie on every day and the like. Why? For fear of being noticeable, for fear that something might happen. The slightest deviation and already you are afraid you could be sacked, be expelled from school or this or that. Why, what for, what can happen to you? That you won’t get paid or something?

Why are there these lame-brained strikes for more – to get more money? You can live with less. I can assure you that you only need so much money because you buy these lame-brained consumer goods.

So, if you buy a plate, change it; if you buy a washing machine, give it a kick; when you come home and go into the bathroom and see these tiles that are all the same, take a hammer and smash them, so that this sterile order of the grid is broken once and for all.


 Speech held at Galerie Hartmann, Munich, December 12, 1967.

Published in:

Catalogues of the World Travelling Museum Exhibition 1975-1987: French edition: Paris, Luxembourg, Marseille, Cairo, 1975; Copenhagen, Dakar, 1976; Montreal, Brussels, 1978. (excerpt)

Hundertwasser's private print with manifestos and speeches in the nude in 1967 and 1968. Vienna, 2nd edition, 1968 (German)

Schurian, Walter (ed.): Hundertwasser - Schöne Wege, Gedanken über Kunst und Leben. (Beautiful Paths - Thoughts on Art and Life) Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (dtv), 1983, pp. 170-173 and ed. 2004 (Munich, Langen Müller Verlag), pp. 222-225 (German)

Das Hundertwasser Haus (The Hundertwasser House). Vienna: Österreichischer Bundesverlag/Compress Verlag, 1985, pp. 56-58 (German)

Hundertwasser Architecture. For a More Human Architecture in Harmony with Nature. Cologne: Taschen, 1997, pp. 54-56 and Edition 2007, pp. 40-42

A Magical Eccentric, Exhibition catalogue, Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest, 2007, pp. 168-170 (Hungarian and English, excerpt)

Hundertwasser. New York: Parkstone Press International, 2008, pp. 131-132

Hirsch, Andreas (ed.): Hundertwasser - The Art of the Green Path, Exhibition catalogue KunstHausWien. Munich, Prestel Verlag, 2011, p. 130 (excerpt)

Grunenberg, Christoph and Becker, Astrid (ed.): Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Gegen den Strich. Werke 1949-1970, Exhibition catalogue Kunsthalle Bremen. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012, pp. 228-231 (German, excerpt)

Schreiber, Daniel J. (ed.): Hundertwasser. Schön & Gut, Exhibition catalogue by Buchheim Museum der Phantasie, Bernried, 2016, pp. 16-19 (German)