Painter, designer and eco-pioneer: Friedensreich Hundertwasser left his mark on 20th century art far beyond the borders of Austria. Less known, however, is his deep preoccupation with Egon Schiele. The Leopold Museum shows both exceptional artists together in an exhibition for the first time.
"The straight line leads to the downfall of humanity. The spiral is the symbol of life and of death," said Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000), who passed away 20 years ago. Inspired by the style of the Vienna Secession, his art is noted for its organic shapes and fabulous colors. The native of Vienna began his career in 1948 as an outsider of the scene. Twenty years old at the time, he stuck it out at the Academy of Fine Arts for just three months. He much preferred to focus on studying the art of Vienna Modernism on his own. In particular, Egon Schiele (1890-1918) became one of his central figures of reference in the years that followed. Up until the end of his life, Hundertwasser surrounded himself in his homes and studios in Venice and New Zealand with reproductions and paintings of the fellow artist he so greatly admired.
With around 170 exhibits, the comprehensive, dialog-styled show "Hundertwasser - Schiele. Imagine Tomorrow" at the Leopold Museum reconstructs the artistic and spiritual relationship of the two masters, who were never able to get to know each other in person and yet are connected by so much.
Hundertwasser's poetic text "I love Schiele" from 1951 makes the intensity of his quotation apparent: "I often dream like Schiele, my father, about flowers that are red, and birds and flying fish and gardens in velvet and emerald green and human beings who walk, weeping, in red-yellow and ocean-blue."
However, Hundertwasser was not only an artist but also an ecological visionary: His call for green façades and more natural spaces in the city is increasingly being taken into account. In 1976/77, he sailed in climate-friendly fashion from Venice to New Zealand on board his ship "Regentag", which was his home for 10 years. And he developed an environmentally friendly filtration system for toilets. The Hundertwasser House in Vienna and the nearby Kunst Haus Wien engage in depth with the work of Hundertwasser.
Hundertwasser - Schiele. Imagine Tomorrow, February 21 – August 31, 2020