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 44-53

    • Catalogue Essay

      Including Eye Balance Number Five; Street For Survivors; It Hurts To Wait With Love If Love Is Somewhere Else; Exodus Into Space; A Rainy Day On The Regemtag; Columbus' Rainy Day In India; Irinaland Over The Balkans; Regentag On Ways Of Love; The Houses Are Hanging Underneath The Meadows; and Crusade Of The Crossroaders

Property from an Important European Collection


Look at it on a Rainy Day (Regentag portfolio) (K. 44-53)

The complete set of 10 screenprints in colours with embossing, some with lacquer varnish and glowing dust, on various papers, with full margins, the sheets loose (as issued) all contained in the original decorated wooden portfolio box.
all I. approx. 39 x 59 cm (15 3/8 x 23 1/4 in.)
all S. approx. 49.3 x 67.2 cm (19 3/8 x 26 1/2 in.), one vertical
portfolio 54.8 x 72.5 x 4.5 cm (21 5/8 x 28 1/2 x 1 3/4 in.)

All signed and numbered 1/300 in black or pink ink, and consecutively numbered from 1 to 10 in black or pink ink, presumably this group of ten compiled from 300 examples signed by hand (standard editions only had one sheet hand-signed per set), from the total edition of 3,000, further signed in pink crayon and numbered '1' in blue crayon inside the box, published by Ars Viva, Zurich (seven with the Schoeller Stern blindstamp), all unframed.

Full Cataloguing

£7,000 - 9,000 ‡♠

Sold for £13,860

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 14 - 15 June 2021