ON ORIGINAL GRAPHIC
One must enjoy owning these things and must admire and honour them, also because one always discovers new contents, like when wandering through an unknown country or like magic trees which permanently grow new branches, leaves and blossoms which one has never seen before. There is no use in imposing on the people ugly, useless things, as they will be thrown away soon.
The few pictures I painted are in the possession of few collectors, and in 1965 I decided to make graphic art in order to reach more people. I realized very soon that producing an excellent graphic work, as I had imagined, is impossible without specialized and skilled collaborators as I could not do everything myself.
I had to leave it to others to print perfectly, produce paper, colours, emboss metal foils as well as publishing, financing, and distributing, etc. otherwise I would not have come far in the graphic art, although as self conscious painter I was used to making painting material myself, preparing the colours, making wooden framework, mounting the canvas, even producing Indian ink and paintbrushes.
There are two puritanic alternatives, both are unsatisfactory:
1. The technically perfect professional printer, who is not an artist, creates and prints a so-called "original graphic work", following to the letter the criteria of technical independence and autonomy as he masters perfection and technique. Is that how a graphic work of art originates?
2. The painter, who is a genius and is rich in ideas, paints on stones or screens and etches in copper plates, but already fails with the attempt of a second printing process over the first one because without technical aid and technical collaborators he is stuck in a primitive, primary printing technique. Will this serve the evolution of graphic art?
The right way is the collaboration of the artist, the technician and the printer, whereas the artist has a supervising function and also interferes with the technical process and has the responsibility.
How often did I sleep in the printing-offices or in the next hotel or on a bench in the printing-shops or on old car tyres in front of the printers studio in order to be able to personally interfere with the printing process at any point in time and not to lose oversight of the variations and complicated overlapping printing during the long work on the proofs.
I remember they did not want to let me into the Mourlot Lithograph Studio in Paris to work on my own lithographs, because there the "original graphic works" are being copied from the originals in a photographic process and then reproduced by the technicians. The artist, who then signs the lithographs has nothing to do there.
I have introduced many innovations into graphic art. I believe to have been the first to use mixed techniques in graphic printing, i.e., three printing processes in layers, lithography, silk screen, embossing; I have used techniques and colours which were unusual in graphic arts: fluorescent colours, reflecting glass beads, phosphorescent colours in blue, green and red which glow in the dark, metal foil printing in silver, gold and all colours, velvet application, convex embossing, craquelés. I printed with screen- and metal embossing on plexiglass, on hand-painted ground and on wrapping paper. I printed matte and shiny colours side by side.
Years of proof-printing and tryouts were necessary, accompanied by many setbacks. I was always repugnant to reproduction, i.e., the fact that from a graphic work a great many of identical copies are printed. I am over-honest and always stated on graphic specimen: total edition including the number of all proofs and variations, technique, number of printing processes, incl. colour index and colour scheme, exact information on what was done by my hand and what by others, names of collaborators, engravers, wood cutters, lithographers, screen printers, embossing printers, producers of paper, colours, metal foils, oeuvre-number and the name, the date and the location the work was done as well as my signature, my and the printer's working time in days, my Japanese name stamp, signature and individual numbering in indelible ink, the publisher and distributor.
But all this was not yet satisfactory to me. What I wanted was that each collector would possess an individual original work of mine. I turned to making more and more variations and versions within one edition. It was like playing chess simultaneously with many partners. In the case of 686 Good Morning City there were already 80 different colour compositions and two different formal groups, which I numbered all the way through.
I could have numbered each version separately to create several small editions. I did not do this because I was proud to prove that Hundertwasser is capable of inspiring a large ensemble with high individual quality. A gigantic work. This is my big victory.
Now with my 83rd graphic work I succeeded in producing as many different specimens as their number in the edition. I succeeded not only in creating a graphic work, but a genuine original graphic work, a unique original. This actually was only a last step into the direction of a good conscience.
The word original graphic work should mean that this graphic specimen is an original, a unique work, not a reproduction nor a duplication, i.e.,
1. it is not a reproduction after a picture,
2. it does not exist a second time.
The only difference from a hand-painted picture is that it was produced by a printing technique and not by using a paintbrush.
In the age of reproduction and duplication and mass production I am proud of having been the first to transform and vanquish the assembly line. When the machine produces originals it will lose its terror and cease to be an assembly line. When the sheets of an edition are as different from each other as the leaves of a tree, and all leaves, each single one, have their individuality, one feels really as a creator.
This original graphic will start a revolution because it not only turns the notion of reproduced graphic art on its head. I can imagine that man could also produce cars and consumer goods which are not deadly identical, but are so different from one another as a man is different from another man.