Hundertwasser. I had never heard of him before, but I was told that I must see the Hundertwasser flats. I noticed an advertisement in the Schwedenplatz metro tunnel, and it was only 10 minutes away from that stop! However, this jaunt required a tram. I’m not good on trams and buses – well, to say I’m not good means that I always end up in the wrong place despite the best of plans.
I like Metros. It’s prescriptive. Stops every stop unless it’s express. Maps are easy to read. Trams and buses, however, require more of a local knowledge of a place. A familiarity with the stops or the landscape. It shouldn’t have been such a big deal to take a tram, but heck, at least I got on the right one this time (victory is mine!), used my Vienna pass as my ticket, and saw that it had an electronic board announcing the stops. Easy enough.
The Hundertwasser house/village is just down the road from the tram stop. It is incredibly hard to miss. With its wavy tiled lines, bold, primary colors in checkerboard patterns, and whimsical objects scattered here and there (including a cone and a bowling pin), it’s a fairyland place that is in striking contrast to the heavy hand of the usual architecture.
I think I might have fallen in love with Hundertwasser at first sight. He was cool before adult coloring books. His whole philosophy on life, creativity, and learning spoke to my teacher’s heart.
It’s worth meandering in and out of the courtyard outside the Hundertwasser apartments. Whilst you can’t go inside – they are actually private apartments with residents – it’s just as fun to explore the building’s exterior, the fountains, and the souvenir shops. There are some cafes in the Kalke Village, which used to be a factory – Michelin, I think. It echoes the same wavy lines and playful style of the apartments.
Besides that, it’s necessary to visit the museum exhibiting Hundertwasser’s works. It’s called Kunsthauswein, and it’s a few blocks over from the flats. After all, the walk itself it rather artsy, as colorful tiles lined the building walls along the way.
I would recommend spending some considerable time to ponder over his paintings, architectural surprises, books, building models, and other pieces by this awesomely prolific artist. Let your inner child come out – you know, the one that geeks out over adult coloring books, jars of glitter, and 64-count crayon sets (the one that everyone ooohed over in elementary school).
The title of his paintings were poetic in their own way, thoughtful in others, and some I plain wondered if I was seeing what the title suggested. My personal favourite title was “Who has eaten all my window”. There’s a poem title in there somewhere.
I liked all the plants and crinkly noise of water running through the exhibit, which seemed in perfect harmony with the building, and the bright, vibrant colours of the walls and the paintings. It’s hard to be unhappy at the Kunsthauswein. After all, he was an eco-friendly warrior, an advocate of more nature and less manmade things, a man who thought that no one should lose their creative spirit.
Honestly, even after all the high art I’d seen in Vienna, and the stunning old world architecture, this became my favourite side-trip in the city. It’s worth wandering away from the city centre, where most of the tourists hang out, and seeing this fantastical art and architecture.
Hipster Hundertwasser – a man ahead of his time.
A few Hundertwasser gems
“Our real illiteracy is our inability to create.”
“If we do not honor our past, we lose our future. If we destroy our roots, we cannot grow.”
“The horizontal belongs to nature. The vertical belongs to man.”
“The straight line is God less.”