Friedensreich Hundertwasser: Man and Nature

Austrian painter, architect, and graphic artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) produced radiant, colorful paintings that integrate human figures and constructions with interminable forms of nature. These lithographs were produced during one of Hundertwasser’s most successful periods at the Mourlot workshop in Paris in 1967 for the Galerie Flinker exhibition, and are from editions of 100, atypical of his 5,000 print productions.  In both lithographs, Hundertwasser utilizes his characteristic repeating horizontal and vertical lines comprised of complementary colors.

In Der Knabe mit den grunen Haaren (The boy with the green hair), Hundertwasser depicts a bald-headed man with multiple eyes and mouths. His head is transformed into a spiraling green and yellow pasture split by a slicing red wedge that suggests a tree trunk. Atop the pasture sits three buildings, seemingly sprouting from the man’s head. In describing Der Geher, a similar work, Hundertwasser explains his interpretation of the relationship between man and nature, “The horizontal belongs to nature, the vertical to man. A man should be able to walk up a wall just as he walks across a meadow if this is the only surface he can avail himself of. That is why this surface is also a meadow breached by windows.”

Der endlose Weg zu Dir (The endless way to you) is inspired by his 1966 painting The way to you, a work that Hundertwasser could not part with: “This I can’t sell. It means something special to me.” A year later, he produced this lithograph, a first-person view of an infinite highway that invites the viewer to share in Hundertwasser’s journey. Shades of red, orange, and pink incite stifling heat, blinding light, and monotony. At work on this print while in Paris, he wrote, “The roads are so long, so sad and beautiful. My fingers and my toes are my driving companions.” Though an intensely personal excursion to an unknown “you”, Hundertwasser evokes the common experience of anticipation and desire in the face of dire circumstances.

Contributing Writer, Paul DesMarais

Lot Information:

Lot 164
Friedensreich Hundertwasser
Der endlose Weg Zu Dir (The Endless Way to You)
Lithograph printed in 10 colors
#27 of 100
Printed by Mourlot, Paris
Signature, date and edition lower right
Works Catalogue (WC) #655
Image 20” x 23”; Frame 27.5” x 30.25”
Estimate $4,000 – 6,000
June 26, 2011 Auction

Lot 165
Friedensreich Hundertwasser
Der Knabe Mit den gruen Haaren (The Boy with the Green Hair)
Lithograph printed in colors
#27 of 100
Printed by Mourlot, Paris
Signed and dated lower right
Works Catalogue (WC) #653
Image 21.5” x 15”; Frame 29.5” x 22.5”
Estimate $4,000-6,000
June 26, 2011 Auction 

Koschatsky, Walter. Hundertwasser: The Complete Graphic Work 1951-1986. New York: Rizzoli, 1986. Print.


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