I Live Too Near the Route Nationale and a Steamer Goes Through the Meadow

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

1963

I Live Too Near the Route Nationale and a Steamer Goes Through the Meadow by Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Mixed media: egg tempera, oil on paper, primed with chalk and PV; mounted on jute with PV; 31,9 x 45,7 in.

"I painted this picture this way on purpose - as self-therapy - just as Salvador Dalí, for one, said that to free oneself of certain illnesses or complexes, one should paint them. That is often used in therapy, I believe. If somebody is afraid of dying he must paint death. Or if someone is frail he should paint frail people. Well, it always annoyed me - I have a house in the countryside of Normandy, and it is very beautiful and everything is very green and the trees grow marvellously - I'm always annoyed because the Route nationale, the French motorway, is too close to the house. I admit it is three hundred or five hundred meters away, but it annoyed me anyway. So I decided to paint a picture in which this Route nationale - painted red here, i. e., especially toxic - is neutralised. And then I painted my house down here and forced myself to think of the Route nationale as something beautiful even if so many loud things are on the move on it. And in the course of the painting I painted in the steamer moving right through the meadow, and this cured me of this affliction, and now I am glad the Route nationale is near the house. A steamer with the smoke rising stright up is a symbol for me, too. I painted a series of steamers with smoke coming out of their smokestacks, steamers that sing, and because in a choir many voices produce an image, the smoke from many steamers results in a song."

Lit: Hundertwasser, Buchheim Verlag, Feldafing, 1964 and ed. 1973, p. 22

"Every time I came back I heard chain saws. The word had been passed around in the neighbourhood, "Monsieur Stowasser is back". They knew I would then rush over to prevent the felling of trees with my money. These were my first activities to ransom nature. In the meantime I have planted many trees between La Picaudière and the Route nationale. Now there is a forest there."

Lit: Hundertwasser 1928 – 2000, Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. 2, Taschen, Cologne, 2002, p. 456.