Finally on Sunday I was able to sleep in and when I woke up I had a great breakfast with my host mother. I had planned not to do much on Sunday. Most of the stores and restaurants around Vienna are closed on Sundays, but my host mother surprised me by suggesting that we go to the Kunst Haus Wien (literally translate to Art House Vienna). The Kunst Haus is a creation of Friedensreich Hundertwasser and it holds a lot of his artwork and also art exhibits that change. Elliot Erwitt, a well-known photographer from New York, is the current exhibit.

The Kunst Haus Wien was an apartment design by Hundertwasser. It was probably one of the wackiest places I’ve ever been. Outside the building was covered in tiles and it was made to look kind of like a checkerboard. Inside and outside the house the floor was uneven and I was often surprised by a sudden step down or up. Although the inside and outside were covered in very bright colors, the house was very natural feeling. The floors seemed to move with the true unevenness of the ground and there were plants growing everywhere!

Inside there were two exhibits. The first one we visited was about Hundertwasser. It had a lot of his paintings, graphics, models, and tapestries, along with quotes from him and pictures from his life. Hundertwasser died in 2000, but from what I can gather from his art and writing he seemed like a very down to earth kind of guy. He had strong opinions about our responsibility to nature. Although I really did like his paintings, they were bright and shiny, I like his models the most.

In his exhibit there were a number of large models of towns that he had created. They reminded me a little of Doctor Seuss towns. The buildings blended easily into the ground allowing nature and humanity to live in peace. This was something that Hundertwasser strongly cared about. He didn’t like the sterilness of the modern age. He felt that we are pushing ourselves further and further away from the earth and slowly forgetting the ways in which it gives us life. He felt especially strong about the importance of trees and when he died in 2000, he was buried in the ground without a casket so that he could be reincarnated as a tree. The tree with the same name, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, is now twelve.

I really connected with some of the things Hundertwasser was talking about and know that I’ll take away some great advice from this experience.

The gallery of Elliot Erwitt’s photography was very different from Hundertwasser’s gallery. While Hundertwasser liked strong bold colors and complicated figures, Erwitt’s photography is in black and white and very simple. Some of his photography was funny in an ironic sense, while others were very serious. I think the range in Erwitt’s pieces was my favorite aspect of his work. He took pictures of dogs being dogs, but he also had pictures of important moments in human history, a picture of Kennedy at her husbands funeral or of Nixon jabbing Khrushchev in the chest. Erwitt’s attitude about photography is, take pictures, take a lot, take pictures of what interests you, and think about the results later.

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