On Hundertwasser's graphic work

Andrea C. Fürst

Hundertwasser mastered and innovated many graphic techniques, among them lithograph, silk screen, etching, colour woodcut and many others. He was one of the first to demand and practice complete transparency in terms of technique, dates of creation and editions for each sheet.

Hundertwasser never really created large editions of one and the same graphic work. His graphic editions comprise several colour versions and variants, which are not numbered separately, but instead numbered throughout the entire edition. It was his aim to make many different unique pieces within the art of the graphic, thereby going beyond machine production.

Hundertwasser always took great care to provide exact information about the work on each graphic sheet, in order to arrive at as complete a disclosure of a work’s techniques and creation dates as possible.

On the graphics can be found:

· Hundertwasser’s signature (in manuscript or as Japanese inkan stamps),
· date and place of the signature,
· œuvre number,
· in many cases the name of the work,
· specimen number,
· listings or stamps and embossings of publishers, printers, paper and paint producers, or of the co-ordinators involved, and
· colour-separation marks.
· Many prints bear embossed, stamped or printed listings of colour variants, technical versions and edition sizes.
· On the plates, on the stones or on the screens, additional signatures were often given, but also work numbers, and names, sometimes including the name of the originals, as well as place and date of creation.
· In the case of many Japanese colour woodcuts the title of the work was printed in Japanese characters.

Occasionally Hundertwasser had the reverse of the graphic imprinted with all this information, and even went beyond that by listing the entire development and creative process of the print.

In the catalogue of graphic work that was published in 1986, Walter Koschatzky put the graphics in chronological order by the date of print and introduced consecutive HWG (Hundertwasser Graphics) numbers.

With the continuation of the graphic work after 1986, Hundertwasser’s graphic oeuvre consists of 124 HWG numbers, counting the 23 doodle etchings as one number, namely HWG 124.

Portfolios as such were not assigned their own HWG number, because each graphic contained in a portfolio was given an HWG number.

As Walter Koschatzky explains in his introduction, Hundertwasser generally used oeuvre numbers to mark different types of graphics*):

- works that he created directly on the stone or plate, and that were therefore completely or predominantly made for this particular medium, are hence assigned a corresponding oeuvre number, for instance 940 Bottlehousebath,

- works transferred to a graphic medium from an existing painting or watercolour, that were reworked by him on plates or foils, and that are significantly different from the source work; these were also assigned their own oeuvre numbers. E. g. 699 King Kong, after 202 Kopf in zwei Perspektiven (Head in Two Perspectives),

- works that were transferred to a graphic medium from an existing painting, watercolour or drawing, but corrected by the artist, changed in some details, and transferred to colour variants. Their numbers are those of the source work, and they received the addition A, B or C, e.g. 484A Houses in Rain of Blood, or 557B Do not Wait Houses - Move, depending on which letter addition was available next. There are, however, exceptions, as for example all lithographs produced with Mourlot.

*) Koschatzky, Walter: Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The complete graphic work 1951-1986. Rizzoli International Publications: New York, 1986