St. Mandé/Seine, 1955

Mixed media: PVA on two joint strips of canvas, sewn together and primed with chalk, zinc white and fish glue


1620 mm x 1600 mm

Painted in St. Mandé/Seine, June 1955


Collection: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere Vienna
Hundertwasser comment about the work:

Because of the human scale of this spiral, it seems like a human trap of sorts. I started out exactly in the middle, pushing the spiral a bit further outward each day. The complementary colors red and blue make for a powerfully vibrating tonality. The open spaces within the spiral have been filled in with small fields that add up to form a cross within the spiral. I also had in mind the circular form of hopscotch that kids play and that's called "Snail's Hopscotch" in German (the French call it jeu d'oie). You start hopping and gradually move toward the center, until you miss a field and have to start all over again. You advance and are forced to retreat, just like in real life. Compared to the other images, this one allows for an additional way of viewing, as you do not have to look at it as a whole. Starting in the middle you can follow the entire course of the spiral with your finger or your eyes and become aware of how narrow the path often gets, how its colors change and what obstacles there are on the way. In order to follow the course mechanically you need to allow yourself several minutes at least. Among other things, you will arrive at bulges that seem like lakes or clearings. At the same time, the whole thing resembles a giant coiled-up snake that is digesting a few living beings it has just swallowed. The image is also likely to induce a feeling of dizziness in the viewer. When viewed from a distance, the image as a whole becomes the inside of a long hose seen in perspective, that leads into the blue sky. (Hundertwasser, 1955) My most significant spiral painting. I always wanted to place it next to the painting "The Kiss" by Klimt, which is also square, to compare the two. The red and blue spiral ribbons shimmer. It is often used for meditative purposes. So many stories have been associated with this painting. When it was exhibited as a major work in the Salon de Mai of 1956 in Paris, the sculptor Cesar showed me his work, an automobile crushed to a cube. (from: Hundertwasser 1928-2000, Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. 2, Taschen, Cologne, 2002, p. 291)

When I look up from my desk and turn my head fortyfive degrees, I can see Hundertwasser's "Spiral" hanging on the wall. Whatever I may think about that picture is unimportant compared with the sheer joy I feel when I look at it; the restfulness and relaxation emanating from it; and the way it has of loosening up my mind. That marvellous picture is the most truly recreative object in my study. If it is true that my job is an important one - and surely even my political opponents will admit that it is, although they will probably claim that I am not the right person to fill it - it is only fair to pay tribute to the assistance that Hundertwasser's art gives me in my work, as a source of creative life: joy, calm and imagination. (Federal Austrian Chancellor Dr. Bruno Kreisky, in whose office in the Federal Chancellery the painting hung, in: Cat. Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1983, pp. 7-8)

 


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