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A J's Encyclopedia of Stamps & Philatelic Links

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

By Hans Hilte, @

Friedrich Stowasser was born on December-15, 1928 in Vienna, Austria. In the winter of 1949/50, when he was in Paris with René Brô, Bernard and Micheline, he changed his name to Hundertwasser (since 'Sto' or 'Sta' in the slavic languages means 'Hundred' which is 'Hundert' in the german language). In 1961 - when he was living in Japan- he changed his first name to Friederich, then to Friedereich and as of 1968 he signs with Friedensreich.

I'm a great fan of his work and thoughts. He is one of the few artists, who think that postage stamps themselves are little pieces of art, and who designed the stamps specifically for their small size (Until today all except one: Cuba, which was published in 1970

In 1974 he rediscovered the hobby from his youth when he designed the Spiraltree stamp for Austria. Many people didn't find this a 'real'stamp. Hundertwasser says: "Somebody from Vienna sent a card with my stamp on it, but it was returned with the remark of a German-Post employee: 'This is no stamp'. I'm sure he doesn't find it art either." ("Art News", October 1976)

The design for the stamp was made in Tunis, 1974 as an aquarel and pastel painting,

'This is no stamp'


& Kisses

"...stamps were the ambassadors of the world."

He wrote in "Three postage-stamps for Senegal"( published by Schöne Wege, München, Germany - 1983): "I adored postage stamps before I became a painter. It was great joy to collect these small colourful (Bunte) pieces of paper, coming from all over the world and take them off the paper. I had a large correspondence with stamp-friends all over the world. I would simply write letters to 'An unknown stamp-collector' in a city with an exotic name, I had found in the World-almanac. And I received an answer on three such letters. After that we kept on sending stamps to each other...." Long time I was very unhappy, since the paintings I made could not equal my stamps. Those stamps were the ambassadors of the world, the members of a world-parliament. They are like small paintings you can carry with you in a small book. They are cult-objects, just like icons."

Note the 'lips' in this picture. In 1951 Hundertwasser painted 'Yellow boats, yellow kisses' where he used this motif for the first time. After he had found it, these 'kiss-ships' entered his work repetitively. The to kiss formed lips and a boat are playing an amusing game in their surrounding space. Closeby and far away do no longer count. The boat far away, just the contours, and no details, and the mouth closeby as if it wants to kiss you. This game lets the lips float in the space. Compare the two pictures. The lower one is a part of one stamp from the set Hundertwasser designed in 1983 for the United Nations on the occasion of the 35th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights : Homo Humus Humanitas

The set also included: The Right of Creation. Treaty with Nature, The Second Skin, The Right to Dream, and Window Right

The Third Skin

A 'Window Right' was declared by Hundertwasser initially in 1958, and rephrased a few times. In 1983 this right was given to all tennants of the Hundertwasser Haus at Löwengasse 41-43/Kegelgasse 34-38 (Vienna, Austria). This building was designed by Hundertwasser (together with the city-architect) as low-rent social appartments.

A house was, by Hundertwasser, often called 'The Third Skin': "Man isurrounded by three layers, his skin, his clothing, and the walls; the building. Clothing and the walls of buildings have in recent times undergone a development which is no longer in keeping with the individual's natural requirements. Windows are the bridge between inside and outside. The third skin is interspersed with windows as the first one is with pores. The windows are the equivalents of the eyes."



Last updated: March-1, 2001 (by Hans Hilte
Edited by AJ Ward