Lot 144
  • 144

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Friedensreich Hundertwasser
  • La Spirale Voilée
  • signed and dated 1959; signed, titled, dated 1959 and inscribed on the reverse
  • watercolor and egg tempera on paper primed with chalk, zinc white and fish glue, mounted on canvas
  • 59.7 by 72.6cm.; 23 1/2 by 28 5/8 in.


Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris
Jean Leopold, Paris
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1976)
Thence by descent to the present owner


Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Österreich zeigt den Kontinenten Hundertwasser, 1975, p. 317, illustrated in colour


Exhibition Catalogue, Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hundertwasser, 1964, p. 177
Exhibition Catalogue, Luxembourg, Musée de l'Etat; Marseille, Musée Cantini; Cairo, A.S.U. Hall, Österreich zeigt den Kontinenten Hundertwasser, 1975, p. 219, illustrated in colour
Exhibition Catalogue, Alençon, Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle, Hommage à Hundertwasser 1928-2000, 2001, p. 39, illustrated
Andrea Christa Fürst, Hundertwasser 1928-2000, Werkverzeichnis: Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. II, Cologne 2002, p. 374, no. 400, illustrated in colour


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is brighter and more vibrant in the original. Condition: This work is in very good and original condition. All surface irregularities are likely to be inherent to the artist's choice of medium and working process. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultraviolet light.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“The spiral is the symbol of life and death. The spiral lies at that very point where inanimate matter is transformed into life.”
Friedensreich Hundertwasser
Andrea Christa Fürst, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1928 – 2000, Catalogue Raisonné, Volume II, Cologne 2002, p. 28

Spirale Voilée is an extraordinary example of Friedensreich Hundertwasser‘s strident rebellion against linear planes and the regimented grid of modernism expounded by artists such as Piet Mondrian. Akin to Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi’s organic notion of architecture, the present work stands as an intensely colourful manifesto of Hundertwasser’s core aesthetic aims. In this early work, the spiral that would become the artist’s signature motif throughout his oeuvre emanates an extraordinary vibrancy of colour and movement and heralds the core development of the following years.

The 1950s proved an incredibly prolific and important decade for Hundertwasser in terms of his artistic achievements. The idea of the spiral as a motif for eternity embedded in many cultures deeply resonated with Hundertwasser’s own perception, and he extended the erratic spiral to an allegory for life and death: “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. It condenses from the outside in, by concentration in the direction of life, and then, in infinitely small regions, becomes what we call death, because it eludes our measuring perception” (Friedensreich Hundertwasser quoted in: Andrea Christa Fürst, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1928 – 2000, Catalogue Raisonné, Volume II, Cologne 2002, p. 28). Hundertwasser perceived his first spiral painting, Das Blut, das im Kreis fliesst und ich habe ein Fahrrad, in 1953 after seeing an irregularly spinning spiral in Enrico Fluchignoni’s documentary “Images de la folie” at the university in Vienna. Two years later, Hundertwasser would create his largest spiral painting, Der grosse Weg, measuring 162 by 160 centimetres. While the spiral remained a lifelong inspiration to Hundertwasser’s paintings and re-emerged in various forms throughout his oeuvre, the present work is part of the core series of spiral paintings created between 1953 and 1960.

Besides displaying the spiral’s strong metaphorical qualities, Spirale Voilée impresses through a fulminant and vivacious contrast of colours with hues of oceanic blue, sunlit yellow and incandescent red tones. In a fine web of irregular and undulating lines that deliberately reveal the artist’s hand, any symmetry that would imply a geometric grid is strongly denounced. Instead, Hundertwasser’s paintings embrace a freedom of movement and form that is at once playful yet deeply sensual. The juxtaposition of complementary colours reverberates with Hundertwasser’s perception of the spiral as a symbol for life and creation, a vision that strongly resonates with the artist’s unique naturalistic and philosophical thinking.