Architecture Vegetale, Hundertwasser, 1956
Architecture Vegetale, Hundertwasser, 1956

Hundertwasser is an artist that I loved since I was a little kid. I sadly rarely encounter his works in art galleries or museums, but whenever I do, I get lost in his lines. The lines are for me what characterizes the most his work. Lines and colors of course!
No dull colors, always dark and vibrant ones that spike your interest and shake you awake.
It was with great pleasure that I visited his museum in Vienna, and certainly the highlight of our trip to Austria.
So I wanted to share a few bits of Hundertwasser in this post.


Hundertwasser, in a nutshell, explains that the way he does art is “vegetative”, he never thinks about it prior to creation. It just happens, flowing out of him.
He deems it necessary not to think about it, stating that ambition and over achieving should be put aside, in order for the creativity to freely flow.
He even goes further, saying that neither intelligence, diligence nor goodness help.
Creativity is for him something exterior and thus he adheres to the idea of muse, of an external force that guides the artist, whose only job is to be ready, so that this creative force can reach him.


Colors are at the core of his work and he has a very precise way of describing which type of colors he loves.
In his own words, he says that he loves dark colors, as opposed to pastel ones, which are dull and lifeless.
He insists on the importance of using dark colors, which he describes as those you can see on a rainbow just after heavy stormy rain.

Eye of the Sun God - The Target, Hundertwasser, 1959
Eye of the Sun God – The Target, Hundertwasser, 1959


Next to being an artist he was very adamant on the notion of architecture. He wrote on numerous occasions that everyone should be able to build their own house as they see fit.
Of course, he was more specifically criticizing utilitarian architecture. But I think at heart he wanted to point out how creative all humans are, and how vital it is for us to live our creativity, to build things with our own hands, to live and use what we produced ourselves.

“The tangible and material uninhabitability of slums is preferable to the moral uninhabitability of utilitarian, functional architecture. In the so-called slums only the human body can be oppressed, but in our modern functional architecture, allegedly constructed for the human being, man’s soul is perishing, oppressed. ”
(Mouldiness Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture)

Every man should be allowed to paint around his windows as far as his arms reach, to show the world, here I am! This is me! I am unique!
This questioning might seem a bit odd, but people living in high buildings that all look the same have often an identity crisis, and even in terms of practicability, they loose themselves, going to another building that looks exactly like theirs.

He goes as far as stating that architecture is a fraud as the architect, the builder and the one who is going to live in the building are three separate entities. If there is no connection between the three, than nobody truly cares and architecture is nonsensical.
Architects have their importance of course, they have the knowledge, but they simply should put it to the service of the inhabitants, working directly with them, hand in hand.


To say Hundertwasser didn’t like straight lines is an understatement. At the core, he dislikes straight lines because they are unnatural and he feels the more we are disconnected to nature, our true self, the more likely we will be unhappy, out of phase with ourselves.
I might add that the current development of our societies confirms that intuition. We are so out of tune with nature that we lost touch with our inner self and often happiness, but that is another topic.

“The straight line is not a creative line, it is a duplicating line, an imitating line. In it, God and the human spirit are less at home than the comfort-craving, brainless intoxicated and unformed masses.”
(Mouldiness Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture)

Le Grand Chemin, 1955, Hundertwasser
Le Grand Chemin, 1955, Hundertwasser


Nature is above all irreproachable in his eyes, it is perfect by definition and man should work around, work with it and not against it.
Regarding architecture and urbanism, he thought that nature needed to be put back into our cities, trees planted on facades, on roofs.
Nature growing back, taking back the space we took.
He was urging us to protect as much wild nature as we could and to destroy as little as needed for us to create our houses.

Manica di Camicia, 1969, Hundertwasser
Manica di Camicia, 1969, Hundertwasser


Hundertwasser sees the man surrounded by five “skins”.
1 – Epidermis, our own skin and nakedness
2 – Clothes
3 – Houses
4 – Identity and social environment, family, nation, relationships
5 – Earth
He originally wrote about the first three skins only, but after 1972, once it was clear we were living in an era where mankind has a direct impact on nature, he added two new ones.


He also worked a lot on prints using plenty of different techniques to create the most astonishing handmade prints. You can still buy some of them in fact! And they are actually affordable.
His work was quite complex so he had to explain how each should be done and with which techniques, as often several different techniques were used for one single image.
Below just one of those graphic works. You can spot on the bottom colored signs, those indicate the process he wanted.

Flooded sleep, 1975, Hundertwasser
Flooded sleep, 1975, Hundertwasser


This post is of course very short, so if you are interested in his artworks and writings, I invite you to check out the websites below.


All pictures from
Official Hundertwasser website
Full Artwork Documentation – Paintings, Architecture, …
Five skins

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