Lot 142
  • 142

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Estimate
80,000 - 120,000 GBP
Sold
118,750 GBP
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Description

  • Friedensreich Hundertwasser
  • Hana no Hana - Die Nasenblume - Konrad Bayers Tod
  • dated 1964, inscribed and numbered 606; signed, titled, dated 1964, numbered 606 and variously inscribed on a label affixed to the reverse
  • watercolour, polyvinyl, hemp and oil on paper laid down on canvas

Provenance

Konrad Bayer, Vienna
Acquired directly from the Konrad Bayer Estate by Fritz J. Raddatz, Hamburg

Exhibited

Oslo, Hammerlunds Kunsthandel, Hundertwasser, 1965
Paris, Galerie Karl Flinker; London, Hanover Gallery; Geneva, Galerie Krugier; Berlin, Kunstverein, Hundertwasser, 1967, n.p., illustrated 

Literature

Gerhard Rühm, Ed., Der sechste Sinn, Texte von Konrad Bayer, Berlin 1965, illustrated
Werner Hofmann, Hundertwasser, Salzburg 1965, n.p. and cover, illustrated in colour
Exhibition Catalogue: Munich, Haus der Kunst, Hundertwasser – Friedensreich – Regentag, 1975, p. 221, illustrated in colour
Dieter Lattmann, Ed., Kindlers Literaturgeschichte der Gegenwart, Munich 1976, p. 213, illustrated in colour
Exhibition Catalogue: Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe, Hundertwasser, 1976, p. 221, illustrated in colour
Exhibition Catalogue: Pfaffikon, Seedamm-Kulturzentrum, Hundertwasser, 1979, p. 221, illustrated in colour
Exhibition Catalogue: Cologne, Museum Ludwig; Vienna, Secession; Graz, Kulturhaus, Hundertwasser, 1980-81, p. 247, illustrated in colour
Fritz Joachim Raddatz, Süchtig nach Kunst, Regensburg 1995, p. 10, illustrated
Barbara Baumeister, Das Paradies liegt um die Ecke, Munich 2002, p. 39, illustrated in colour
Andrea Christa Fürst, Hundertwasser, Catalogue Raisonné 1928 - 2000, Cologne 2002, Vol. II, p. 487, no. 606, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s captivating and enigmatic painting Hana No Hana – The Nose-Flower – Konrad Bayer’s Death is a masterful demonstration of the artist’s idiosyncratic style that combines strong colourful expression with compositional rigour. Filled with Hundertwasser’s signature spirals that outline a face with an enlarged nose in the shape of a flower, the atmosphere of the present work is further heightened by the fact that it portrays the Austrian post-surrealist writer and poet Konrad Bayer, a close friend of Hundertwasser who committed suicide shortly after the painting was completed in 1964. Hundertwasser himself remarked on this fascinating and phantasmagorical portrait:  “Konrad was at my place in Venice on September 6. I showed him the finished painting. He liked it. He didn’t know that it depicted his death. I didn’t either. Now that Konrad Bayer is no longer alive, I realise that this painting presaged his death” (Friedensreich Hundertwasser quoted in: Andrea Christa Fürst, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1928 – 2000, Catalogue Raisonné, Volume II, Cologne 2002, p. 487).

The first part of the title – Hana No Hana – refers to the Japanese word Hana, which signifies both flower and nose. The nose is depicted as a giant flower with spirals that exude a rich spectrum of colours ranging from rich black and blue tones to hues of lighter yellow and pale red. The white stalk is still visible with two small leafs on the right side of the flower. A wave-like flow of colour encapsulates Bayer’s entire face as if the scent of the flower streams through every pore of his skin. On the significance of the spiral, Hundertwasser wrote: “The spiral stands for life and death in any direction. From the inside out, it runs in the direction of birth, of life, and then on through apparent dissolution into what is too large, into the extraterrestrial, into a realm that cannot be measured” (Friedensreich Hundertwasser quoted in: Andrea Christa Fürst, ibid., p. 28). The face indeed appears bloated, flat, and broad, as if the noxious scent of the flower slowly spread out through the spirals to turn the face into a pale, pink, and cold appearance. As if Bayer was following the order of Hundertwasser’s painting – which hung in his flat at the time – he committed suicide by sniffing gas at the age of 32. The flower and its scent are thus transformed into an allegory of death, eating through the nose and turning the facial flesh outward. The narrowing eyes are rendered with red rings as the flower slowly takes over the face. The nostrils, eyelids, pupils, and mouth are coloured in silver, gold, and black – the funeral colours in Europe at the time.

Both subject matter as well as the important provenance of this work are testament to the connection between art and literature. After Bayer’s death, Hundertwasser wished that the painting remained with the German publisher and essayist Fritz J. Raddatz. Raddatz, a prominent and charismatic figure in the German literary world, had initially discovered Bayer. He became a close friend of Hundertwasser when publishing several of Bayer’s books with illustrations by Hundertwasser, amongst others the present work as a frontispiece in Bayer’s most famous novel “The Sixth Sense”. The painting remained in the possession of Raddatz until his death in 2015.

Hana No Hana – The Nose-Flower – Konrad Bayer’s Death is a powerful and emotionally charged work that conveys Hundertwasser’s mastery to transform the suggestive into a visual amalgam of spirals that transcend the boundary between life and death. Given the rich history and significance, Hana No Hana – The Nose-Flower – Konrad Bayer’s Death is an exceptional and important work within Hundertwasser’s oeuvre.

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