Blood Garden House (Blutregenfieberhaus)

In January 1961 Hundertwasser accepted the invitation of a Japanese art dealer to exhibit in Tokyo.
During his stay in Japan he became inspired by the traditional “ukiyo-e” wood printing technique. He decided to have his first wood print made on the basis of a painting: Houses in blood rain – a painting that makes an Austrian Jew cry” from April 1961. This made him the first European artist having his design cut in wood by traditional Japanese craftsmen.

During his stay Hundertwasser met his future wife, Yuko Ikewada, whom he married in Vienna in 1962. The marriage would end in divorce in 1966. What stayed was his contact with the Japanese printers.

From then on he would produce on average one wood cut a year. Printing proofs would be sent back and forth between Japan and Europe, with annotations for changes and improvements.

With our woodcut of 1974 Hundertwasser picked up on a work titled Austrian house with smallpox illness, a watercolor that he painted at Annaberg, Lower Austria, in January 1961, (oeuvre number 463, 480 x 640 mm).

Blood Garden House (Blutregenfieberhaus) HWG 63, 463A
(Schreuder & Kraan)

This Annaberg water color, now in the BAWAG (Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft) collection in Vienna, was painted on primed wrapping paper. The lower right corner is missing, and that explains the empty space on our wood-print. It leaves ample of room for the signature, place and date, work number, a title in Japanese characters and Japanese Inkan stamps of his collaborators.

Austrian house with smallpox illness, oeuvre # 463, watercolour 480 x 640 mm, 1961.

In another watercolor of a similar composition, started in 1961 and finished in 1962: Jewish House in Austria the theme of blood recurs. It rains blood; the courtyard is a sea of blood and the drain in the middle is red of blood.

# 531 Jewish House in > Austria, Radschin, Waldviertel, December 1961, Giudecca 1962, mixed techniques 92 x 73 cm.

In this period the artist is preoccupied with what had happened during the Nazi era in Austria. An ordinary house hides a terrible secret: the original Jewish occupants of the house have been removed from their house, others have taken their place and the blood testifies of the discomforting truth that is still attached to this place.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was born as Friedrich Stowasser on 15 December 1928. His mother came from a poor Jewish family, his father, an unemployed decorated war veteran, died of appendicitis in 1929.

Young Stowasser was baptized in 1937, but that would not safeguard him from Nazi prosecution. In order to protect the family his mother made him a member of the Hitler Jugend. As by a miracle they survived the war. After school he would sleep until midnight, in order to evade the S.S. patrols. Whenever there was a knock on the door, he would put on his Hitler Jugend insignia, swastika arm band and his father’s First World War decorations, in order to rebuff the S.S. men at the door. It saved him twice.

After finishing his gymnasium, after the war, he received some formal training as an artist. But he was more impressed by the work of Egon Schiele and Walter Kampmann and so he went his own way. He traveled in Italy and went to Paris, where he spent just one day at the École des Beaux-Arts. Instead he undertook numerous and adventurous trips to Morocco, Tunisia, Nepal, Tokyo and Siberia.

Paris, 1954

He learnt to live without – or with very little money, and this made him very happy. “If you want to be independent, you will have to be independent of money”.

He did not assume his nom d’artiste Friedensreich Hundertwasser until 1949, (‘sto‘ meaning ‘one hundred’ in Slavic languages and ‘Wasser‘ meaning ‘water’).

Hundertwasser: “If you keep the name that you get, you are a coward; you are not able to be yourself. You will always do what society or your family has intended for you. You keep in line and will never be a truly independent person”

During the 1960s Hundertwasser was extremely successful, with a 1962 retrospective in the Austrian pavilion at the Venice Biennale and a 1964 retrospective mounted by the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hannover. In addition, the first comprehensive catalogue of his œuvre was published.

Taking the Viennese Jugendstil as his point of departure, Hundertwasser developed his own distinctive style, two-dimensional and vibrantly colorful and characterized by ornamental spiral forms and biomorphic shapes.

Up to this day his work remains highly appreciated.

Active in the ecological movement, Hundertwasser was committed to making life livable in a humane environment that was close to nature. He furthered his aims by issuing manifestos and making provocative public appearances, for instance giving a speech in the nude (1968) in Vienna, but also in his paintings, posters, architecture or books.

The famous Hundertwasser House in Vienna, begun in 1983, attests to Hundertwasser’s idea’s on architecture. In fact he realized the same style of architecture as he had always painted. He was one of the great pioneers of humanist and environmental architecture in an attempt to conciliate both artistic creation and ecology.

Hundertwasser died on a cruise ship off New Zealand in 2000. He was survived by a daughter born out of an earlier affiliation, who at the time of his death was 18 years of age.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 - 2000)
Blood Garden House (Blutregenfieberhaus) HWG 63, 463A
Japanese woodcut in 20 colors, on Japon, published in 1974
by Grüner Janura AG, Glarus in an edition of 200, signed and
numbered from1 to 200, with the work number 463A.
Signed and dated in ink “Vienna 14 February 1975”,
numbered 78/200, inscribed (in many Japanese color woodcuts
the title of the work has been printed in Japanese
characters) and with Japanese inkan stamps (of publishers,
printers, paper and paint producers, or of the coordinators
involved) and colour-separation marks; with margins, framed.
B. 540 mm x 430 mm
S.475 mm x 370 mm
Cut by Hideo Maruyma Horishi, Kyoto. Printed by
T. Matsuoka Surishi, Kyoto, 1973.
Part of the gold printed by Matashiro Uchikawa Surishi,
Tokyo 1973. Coordinator: Yuko Ikewada.

Literature:
David Kung (Ed.), The Woodcut Works of Hundertwasser, 1977 (c)
Walter Koschatzky, Hundertwasser, Das vollständige
druckgraphische Werk 1951-1986, Zürich/Schwäbisch Hall,
1986, p. 149 (c)
A. C. Fürst, Hundertwasser 1928-2000, Catalogue Raisonné,
Cologne 2002, vol. II, pp. 846/847 (and c).

Price on application