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Tapestries and Hand-Knotted Carpets

Hundertwasser’s first tapestry 133 Pissing Boy With Sky-Scraper was woven 1952 because of a bet in which he claimed that he could weave a tapestry freehand without a cardboard template, which means without a weaving pattern the size of the tapestry. All Hundertwasser tapestries that have been executed afterwards by weavers of Hundertwasser’s choice have been created without cardboard templates.

When transforming his works into a tapestry, Hundertwasser’s main concern was to have this done freehand - a transmission of one of his works into a different medium and the quality of the artistic interpretation by the weaver without pattern or cardboard template. In Hundertwasser’s opinion, only this procedure, without a cardboard template, could breathe life into the work, thus an authentic work of art could evolve and not just a soulless copy of the model. This is the reason why all Hundertwasser’s tapestries are unique examples.

It was different when strangers took the initiative to produce hand-knotted carpets. Many who tried to manufacture hand-knotted Hundertwasser carpets had to destroy their work, because the product neither complied with Hundertwasser’s artistic vision nor met his technical standards. In 1998, however, he gave his Afghan friend Zia Uddin permission to have Afghan carpet knotters manufacture a hand-knotted carpet based on the work 117 Yellow Ships – The Sea of Tunis and Taormina, not least because he wanted to support the poor Afghan country people. He liked the individual interpretation so much that he agreed to the production of some additional carpets. When Hundertwasser set sail from New Zealand to Europe on board the Queen Elizabeth 2 in February 2000, he took the Afghan hand-knotted carpet based on the work 117 with him and put it on the floor of his cabin.