Famous Artists and their Circles 7 : Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Silver Spiral (1988), Friedensreich Hundertwasser

You may wish to use this page along with Merry-Go-Round Booklet p.30: Snail, snail goes around : Merry-Go-Round booklet

A snail’s shell is a spiral. Spirals, beautiful winding patterns, are everywhere in the natural world, in plants and animals – even the weather! Think sunflowers, fern tendrils, shells on the beach and rams’ horns, galaxies, hurricanes and whirlpools. Your fingerprint spirals, and also your hair at the crown of your head. Spirals have been used as a sacred symbol from earliest times, and have also inspired many architectural forms.

When he was still young the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) set out to travel the world and make his dreams come true. He left behind his home and the Academy of Fine Arts where he had studied painting, to pursue his own creative ideas.

Hundertwasser’s work is full of spirals – symbol of life and nature. He loved the way that when you follow the path of a spiral, you never come back to the same point, and the circle is never closed. His spirals are not perfect, geometric spirals, but curled lines with bulges and irregularities.


Hundertwasser hated straight lines:

“We live in a chaos of straight lines, a jungle of straight lines. If you do not believe this, take the trouble to count the straight lines that surround you. Then you will understand: you will never finish counting.”

Can you trace the spiral in this colourful painting of his?



Snail Sleep of an Austrian Landscape (1957)


Find out more:


Harvesting Dreams: Hundertwasser for Kids  – Barbara Stieff









Video: could you make a spiral out of dominoes like this one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zJ4xdNPccU


Download a pdf version of this page : _Famous Artists and their Circles 7 Hundertwasser

Produced by An Lanntair as part of Full Circle Arts programme.  Funded through the Aspiring Communities Fund with support from the European Social Fund.