Walter Schurian on Hundertwasser's Art-Club exhibition text

Walter Schurian

The exhibition text for the Art Club Vienna, written in 1952 and published in 1953, is directed against the streamlining of attitude and behavior.

... He [Hundertwasser] saw a growing consolidation of institutional power which did not essentially differ from that of the Nazis, which was combated. He saw the masses marching in lockstep in the countries of the East bloc as well as in the United States, for example, although there in a different way. He realized that the old superficial, brutally loud fascist regime was dead, but suspected that a different, much more subtle one could not be eliminated. And he was to prove right.

He detected the dangers of totalitarian power structures and totalitarian behavior in democratic disguise — in the meantime also noticed by others — in the everyday trivia manifest in that era, for example as mass-produced spoons and plates from which the hungering children in Vienna slurped the soups provided by the occupation forces. They all looked the same, punched out according to a standard design and distributed by the millions. This banal detail revealed to him the spirit by which they had been produced. According to his vision, all people do the same, dress the same, think the same, are obedient in the same way. All individuality and all diversity perishes.
This, however, provides the medium for the loss of freedom, which demands from the human being always the peculiar, the individual and the other. If Hundertwasser at root ostensibly condemns the spoons which all look alike, he is actually directing his judgement against the human spirit that is hiding behind it. He senses the danger of conformist views, conformist values, conformist tastes and conformist attitudes. ...