Friedensreich Hundertwasser - Evening & Day Editions London Monday, June 14, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'The spiral, as I see it, is a vegetative spiral, with swellings, where the lines become thicker and thinner, like the rings of a tree trunk…'
    —Friedensreich Hundertwasser
    Organic forms and psychedelic colours dominate the mind when visualising the work of Austrian painter, architect, activist, and philosopher Freidensreich Hundertwasser. The artist’s work is as eccentric as his character, and mirrors his ideologies, reinterpreting the beauty of our surroundings and harmonising the divisions between man and nature.


    Overcoming the trauma of the Second World War, when he and his parents posed as Christians to avoid Jewish persecution, Hundertwasser found sanctuary in the natural world. After studying at the Academy of Fine Art in Vienna and while travelling across Europe and Africa, the environment became his ultimate muse. As his artistic identity slowly developed, he began to reject the straight line, and so the spiral became his signature motif. Inspired by fellow Viennese artists Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, and Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, Hundertwasser embraced decorative labyrinths of pattern to create his unique visual lexicon.


    Although most well-known for his architectural masterpieces, such as the Hundertwasserhaus and Kunst Haus Wien in Vienna, Hundertwasser mastered and innovated many graphic techniques, including lithography, screenprint, etching and woodcut. Seeking the unique in all his works, he focused on smaller graphic editions, composed of several colour versions and variants, shying away from the machine-made seriality of his Western contemporaries. Like Klimt’s The Stoclet Frieze (1905-09), Hundertwasser glorified individual works with delicate additions of gold and silver foil, embedding every workable inch of an image with shape and colour. The result was an exuberant symbiosis of the real and the imagined. Less was not more.


    Gustav Klimt, The Stoclet Frieze (detail), 1905-09. Image: Bridgeman Images
    Gustav Klimt, The Stoclet Frieze (detail), 1905-09. Image: Bridgeman Images

    In Nana Hyaku Mizu (1966-72) and Look at it on a Rainy Day (Regentag Portfolio) (1970-72) Hundertwasser presents variations of surreal morphing landscapes, some urban and some rural, that pulsate with vibrancy and energy. Buildings defy logic, their curved lines transforming man-made structures into organic objects swaying in the wind. In contrast the artist’s vegetative growth appears more static, reflecting a permanence to their place in the world.  Spontaneity pervades and the viewer is confronted with a dream-like environment, not dissimilar to what they might know to be real, but enhanced, abstracted, and bursting with intricacy. Where does the man-made end and natural world start? For Hundertwasser, the goal was to obscure this barrier and bring attention to the irregularity of modern life. Which would you choose, reality or Hundertwasser’s trip into the surreal? 

    • Literature

      Walter Koschatzky 22, 32-33, 37-38, 55, 59

    • Catalogue Essay

      Including Relation Of A Spider; Rain Of Blood Is Falling Into The Garden; Little Palace Of Illness; Spiral Sun And Moonhouse - The Neighbours; Spectacles In The Small Face; Sunset; and Waiting Houses

Property from an Important European Collection


Nana Hyaku Mizu (K. 22, 32-33, 37-38, 55, 59)

The complete set of seven woodcuts in colours, on Japanese paper, with full margins, with table of contents screenprinted on black linen, the sheets loose (as issued) all contained in the original black linen-covered folders, within the original decorated wooden portfolio box.
all I. various
all S. various, largest S. 42.8 x 55.8 x 6 cm (16 7/8 x 21 7/8 x 2 3/8 in.)
portfolio 68 x 54 x 6 cm (26 3/4 x 21 1/4 x 2 3/8 in.)

All signed, dated, numbered 169/200 and annotated with a work number in black ink, published by Gruener Janura AG, Glarus, Switzerland, 1973, all unframed.

Full Cataloguing

£10,000 - 15,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £20,160

Contact Specialist

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond

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T +44 207 318 4079

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Robert Kennan

Head of Editions, Europe,

T +44 207 318 4075

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Anne Schneider-Wilson

Senior Specialist, Editions

T +44 207 318 4042

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 14 - 15 June 2021