Gottfried Helnwein

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Gottfried Helnwein
Save The World Awards 2009 show04 - Gottfried Helnwein.jpg
Born (1948-10-08) 8 October 1948 (age 67)
Vienna, Austria
Nationality Irish
Education Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Known for painting, photography, installation art
Notable work Ninth November Night (1988), Epiphany I (Adoration of the Magi) (1996), Disasters of War 3 (2007), The Murmur of the Innocents 14 (2010), I Walk Alone (2003), Peinlich (1971)
Movement Hyperrealism, Installation art, Performance art

Gottfried Helnwein (born 8 October 1948) is an Austrian-Irish visual artist. He has worked as a painter, draftsman, photographer, muralist, sculptor, installation and performance artist, using a wide variety of techniques and media.

Helnwein studied at the University of Visual Art in Vienna (Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Wien). His early work consists mainly of hyper-realistic watercolors, depicting wounded and mistreated children, as well as performances – often with children – in public spaces.[1] Helnwein is concerned primarily with psychological and sociological anxiety, historical issues and political topics. As a result of this, his work is often considered provocative and controversial.

Helnwein lives and works in Ireland and Los Angeles.


The Child[edit]

State Russian Museum St. Petersburg, Helnwein's "Head of a Child" ("Kindskopf", 1991, oil and acrylic on canvas, 600 x 400 cm), being installed in the retrospective of Gottfried Helnwein, 1997, (Collection of the State Russian Museum St. Petersburg).

In 2004, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco organized the first one-person exhibition of Gottfried Helnwein at an American Museum: "The Child, works by Gottfried Helnwein" at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.[2] The show was seen by almost 130,000 visitors and the San Francisco Chronicle quoted it the most important exhibition of a contemporary artist in 2004. Steven Winn, Chronicle Arts and Culture Critic, wrote: "Helnwein's large format, photo-realist images of children of various demeanors boldly probed the subconscious. Innocence, sexuality, victimization and haunting self-possession surge and flicker in Helnwein's unnerving work".[3]

Harry S. Parker III, Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco explained what makes Helnwein's art significant: "For Helnwein, the child is the symbol of innocence, but also of innocence betrayed. In today's world, the malevolent forces of war, poverty, and sexual exploitation and the numbing, predatory influence of modern media assault the virtue of children. Robert Flynn Johnson, the curator in charge, has assembled a thought-provoking selection of Helnwein's works and provided an insightful essay on his art. Helnwein's work concerning the child includes paintings, drawings, and photographs, and it ranges from subtle inscrutability to scenes of stark brutality. Of course, brutal scenes – witness The Massacre of the Innocents – have been important and regularly visited motifs in the history of art. What makes Helnwein's art significant is its ability to make us reflect emotionally and intellectually on the very expressive subjects he chooses. Many people feel that museums should be a refuge in which to experience quiet beauty divorced from the coarseness of the world. This notion sells short the purposes of art, the function of museums, and the intellectual curiosity of the public. The Child: Works by Gottfried Helnwein will inspire and enlighten many; it is also sure to upset some. It is not only the right but the responsibility of the museum to present art that deals with important and sometimes controversial topics in our society".[4]

Comics and trivial art[edit]

Another strong element in his works are comics. Helnwein has sensed the superiority of cartoon life over real life ever since he was a child. A magazine interview brought out an explanation of his obsession with Disney characters. Growing up in a dreary, destroyed post-war Vienna, the young boy was surrounded by unsmiling people, haunted by a recent past they could never speak about. What changed his life was the first German-language Donald Duck comic book that his father brought home one day. Opening the book felt like finally arriving in a world where he belonged:
"...a decent world where one could get flattened by steam-rollers and perforated by bullets without serious harm. A world in which the people still looked proper, with yellow beaks or black knobs instead of noses." (Helnwein[5])[6]

In 2000, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art presented Helnwein's painting "Mouse I" (1995, oil and acrylic on canvas, 210 cm x 310 cm) at the exhibition The Darker Side of Playland: Childhood Imagery from the Logan Collection.
Alicia Miller commented on Helnwein's work in Artweek: "In 'The Darker Side of Playland', the endearing cuteness of beloved toys and cartoon characters turns menacing and monstrous. Much of the work has the quality of childhood nightmares. In those dreams, long before any adult understanding of the specific pains and evils that live holds, the familiar and comforting objects and images of a child's world are rent with something untoward. For children, not understanding what really to be afraid of, these dreams portend some pain and disturbance lurking into the landscape. Perhaps nothing in the exhibition exemplifies this better than Gottfried Helnwein's 'Mickey'. His portrait of Disney's favorite mouse occupies an entire wall of the gallery; rendered from an oblique angle, his jaunty, ingenuous visage looks somehow sneaky and suspicious. His broad smile, encasing a row of gleaming teeth, seems more a snarl or leer. This is Mickey as Mr. Hyde, his hidden other self now disturbingly revealed. Helnwein's Mickey is painted in shades of gray, as if pictured on an old black-and-white TV set. We are meant to be transported to the flickering edges of our own childhood memories in a time imaginably more blameless, crime-less and guiltless. But Mickey's terrifying demeanor hints of things to come...".[7]

Although Helnwein's work is rooted in the legacy of German expressionism, he has absorbed elements of American pop culture. In the 1970s, he began to include cartoon characters in his paintings. In several interviews he claimed: "I learned more from Donald Duck than from all the schools that I have ever attended." Commenting on that aspect in Helnwein's work, Julia Pascal wrote in the New Statesman: "His early watercolor Peinlich (Embarrassing)[8] shows a typical little 1950s girl in a pink dress and carrying a comic book. Her innocent appeal is destroyed by the gash deforming her cheek and lips. It is as if Donald Duck had met Mengele".[9]

Living between Los Angeles and Ireland, Helnwein met and photographed the Rolling Stones in London, and his portrait of John F. Kennedy made the front cover of Time magazine on the 20th anniversary of the president's assassination.[10] His Self-portrait as screaming bandaged man, blinded by forks (1982) became the cover of the Scorpions album Blackout. Andy Warhol, Muhammad Ali, William Burroughs[11] and the German industrial metal band Rammstein[12] posed for him; some of his art-works appeared in the cover-booklet of Michael Jackson's History album.[13] Referring to the fall of the Berlin Wall Helnwein created the book Some Facts about Myself, together with Marlene Dietrich.[14] In 2003 he became friends with Marilyn Manson[15] and started a collaboration with him on the multi-media art-project The Golden Age of Grotesque and on several experimental video-projects. Among his widely published works is a spoof of the famous Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks, entitled Boulevard of Broken Dreams, depicting Elvis Presley, Marylin Monroe, James Dean and Humphrey Bogart. This painting also inspired the Green Day song of the same name.[16]

Examining his imagery from the 1970s to the present, one sees influences as diverse as Bosch, Goya, John Heartfield, Beuys and Mickey Mouse, all filtered through a postwar Viennese childhood.[17] 'Helnwein's oeuvre embraces total antipodes: The trivial alternates with visions of spiritual doom, the divine in the child contrasts with horror-images of child-abuse. But violence remains to be his basic theme – the physical and the emotional suffering, inflicted by one human being unto another.'[18]

Self portraits[edit]

The self-portrait for the artist's blindfolded unbent head covered with blood occurs twice in Helnwein's triptych The Silent Glow of the Avantgarde (1986). The middle panel shows an enlarged reproduction of Caspar David Friedrich's The sea of Ice, a depiction of a catastrophe of 1823/24 which is generally interpreted as a romantic allegory of the force of nature overpowering all human effort. Helnwein compared the "quietly theatrical" ecstatic attitude of his self-portrait with the heroic pose of the figure of the suffering figure of Sebastian and generalizes both to the stigma of the artist in the 20th century, making him a kind of saviour figure. In addition, its poetic title sets the viewer onto the right track. The visual montage of the modern artist as Man of Sorrows with Friedrich's landscape painting projects the dashed hopes of the romantic rebellion into the present, to the protest thinking of modernity, which has become introverted and masochistic, and its crossing of aesthetic boundaries. Is romanticism making a comeback? – No; actually, it had never left modernity. But its rebellion is confining and introverting itself in the "body metaphysics" of contemporary artists to its own flesh and blood. Thus, the comeback of romanticism leads for Helnwein, too, to stressing just one of its partial aspects, the stylizing in the form of a self-portrait of a protest introverted to martyrdom which historically was once linked in a contradictory way with social opposition, rebellion, and utopia.[19]

References to the Holocaust[edit]

Gottfried Helnwein, "Epiphany I (Adoration of the Magi)", mixed media on canvas, 1996

Mitchell Waxman wrote 2004, in The Jewish Journal, Los Angeles: "The most powerful images that deal with Nazism and Holocaust themes are by Anselm Kiefer and Helnwein, although, Kiefer's work differs considerably from Helnwein's in his concern with the effect of German aggression on the national psyche and the complexities of German cultural heritage. Kiefer is known for evocative and soulful images of barren German landscapes. But Kiefer and Helnwein's work are both informed by the personal experience of growing up in a post-war German speaking country... William Burroughs said that the American revolution begins in books and music, and political operatives implement the changes after the fact. To this maybe we can add art. And Helnwein's art might have the capacity to instigate change by piercing the veil of political correctness to recapture the primitive gesture inherent in art.".[20]

One of the most famous paintings of Helnwein's oeuvre is Epiphany IAdoration of the Magi, (1996, oil and acrylic on canvas, 210 cm x 333 cm, collection of the Denver Art Museum). It is part of a series of three paintings: Epiphany I, Epiphany II (Adoration of the Shepherds), Epiphany III (Presentation at the Temple), created between 1996 and 1998. In Epiphany I, SS officers surround a mother and child group. To judge by their looks and gestures, they appear to be interested in details such as head, face, back and genitals. The arrangement of the figures clearly relates to motive and iconography of the adoration of the three Magi, such as were common especially in the German, Italian and Dutch 15th century artworks. Julia Pascal wrote about this work in the New Statesman: "This Austrian Catholic Nativity scene has no Magi bearing gifts. Madonna and child are encircled by five respectful Waffen SS officers palpably in awe of the idealised, blonde Virgin. The Christ toddler, who stands on Mary's lap, stares defiantly out of the canvas." Helnwein's baby Jesus is often considered to represent Adolf Hitler.[21]

Works for the stage[edit]

Helnwein is also known for his stage and costume designs for theater, ballet and opera productions. Amongst them: "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, (director, choreographer: Johann Kresnik), Theater Heidelberg, 1988, Volksbühne Berlin, 1995; "The Persecution and Murder of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade" by Peter Weiss, (director: Johann Kresnik), Stuttgart National Theatre, 1989; "Pasolini, Testament des Körpers", (director: Johann Kresnik), Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, 1996; "Hamletmaschine" by Heiner Müller, (director: Gert Hof), 47. Berliner Festwochen, Berlin 1997, Muffathalle, München, 1997; "The Rake's Progress" by Igor Stravinsky, (director: Jürgen Flimm), at Hamburg State Opera, 2001; "Paradise and the Peri", oratorio by Robert Schumann, (director, choreographer: Gregor Seyffert & Compagnie Berlin), Robert-Schumann-Festival 2004, Tonhalle Düsseldorf; Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss, (director: Maximilian Schell) at Los Angeles Opera, 2005,[22] and Israeli Opera Tel Aviv, 2006;"Der Ring des Nibelungen, part I, Rheingold und Walküre", choreographic theatre after Richard Wagner, (director, choreographer: Johann Kresnik), Oper Bonn, 2006; "Der Ring des Nibelungen", part II, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, director, choreographer: Johann Kresnik), Oper Bonn, 2008, "The Child Dreams", by Hanoch Levin, composer: Gil Shohat, directed by Omri Nitzan, Israeli Opera, Tel Aviv, 2009/2010, "Die 120 Tage von Sodom" ("Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom"), nach de Sade und Pasolini, director: Johann Kresnik, Volksbühne Berlin, 2015.


  • 1965–1969 Helnwein studied at the Vienna Higher College for Graphic Art (Höhere Grafische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, Wien).
  • 1969–1973 He studied at the University of Visual Art in Vienna (Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Wien).
  • At that time he began to work on a series of hyper-realistic watercolour-paintings of bandaged and wounded children.
  • 1971 First public Aktions in the streets of Vienna, often with bandaged children (Aktion Sorgenkind, Aktion Hallo Dulder, Aktion Eternal Youth, Aktion Sandra).[23]
  • In the exhibition "Zoetus" at the Kunsthalle "Künstlerhaus" in Vienna, unidentified people put stickers with the words "Entartete Kunst" (degenerate art) on Helnwein's paintings.
  • At the opening of a one-man show at Galerie D. in Moedling, near Vienna, the Major has Helnwein's Artworks confiscated by the police.
  • 1972 An exhibition at the "Galerie im Pressehaus" (Gallery of the House of the Press) is closed after 3 days because of strong protests and threats by the works council.
  • 1979 Spurred into action by an interview in an Austrian tabloid in which the country's top court psychiatrist, Dr Heinrich Gross, admitted killing children at Vienna's Am Spiegelgrund Pediatric Unit during the war by poisoning their food, Helnwein painted Life not Worth Living – a watercolour of a little girl "asleep" on the table, her head in her plate. The painting was published in Austria's leading newsmagazine Profil and sparked a nationwide debate that finally led to Gross' appearing before a Vienna court. The judge ruled Gross was mentally unfit to be tried.[24]
  • 1982 Helnwein was offered a chair by the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg, which he declined.
  • 1983 Helnwein met Andy Warhol in his factory in New York, who posed for a series of photo-sessions.
  • 1984 Austrian and German National Television co-produced the film Helnwein, directed by Peter Hajek (de). In Los Angeles, Helnwein meets Muhammad Ali, who appeared in his film. The film was awarded the Adolf Grimme Prize for best television-documentary and in the same year won the Eduard Rhein Prize and the Golden Kader of the city of Vienna for outstanding camera work.[25]
  • 1985 One man show at the Albertina, Vienna.
  • Rudolf Hausner, recommended Helnwein as his successor as professor of the master-class for painting at the University of Visual Art in Vienna, but Helnwein left Vienna and moved to Germany. He bought a medieval castle close to Cologne and the Rhine-river, where he lived and worked till 1997.
  • Besides his realistic work, Helnwein also began to develop abstract, expressive styles of painting during this period. He radically changes his way of working and now begins a series of large-format pictures consisting of several parts (diptychs, triptychs, poliptychs). In doing so he combines photomurals with abstract gestural and monochrome painting in oil and acrylic, also using reproductions of Caspar David Friedrich paintings and war documentary photographs which he assembles to form what Viennese art-critic Peter Gorsen calls "Bilderstrassen" (picture lanes).
  • 1987 Der Untermensch, Gottfried Helnwein, self-portraits of from 1970–1987, one man show at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Strasbourg.
  • Aktion Gott der Untermenschen (God of Sub-Humans), Performance at Camp Kopal, St. Pölten of the Austrian Army, using tanks and ammunition[26]
  • 1988, In remembrance of "Kristallnacht",[27] the actual beginning of the Holocaust – 50 years earlier, Helnwein erected a 100 meter long installation in the city center of Cologne, between Ludwig Museum and the Cologne Cathedral. Just days into the exhibit, these portraits were vandalized by unknown persons, symbolically cutting the throats of the depicted children's faces.[28][29] Since then large scale installations in public spaces became an important part of his work.
  • 1989 One-man show at the Folkwang Museum in Essen.
  • Torino Fotografia 1989, Biennale Internationale, Gottfried Helnwein, David Hockney, Clegg and Guttmann.
  • 1989 Helnwein's photographic work from 1970 to 1989 was published in a monograph by Dai Nipon in Japan. Text by Toshiharu Ito.
  • Helnwein met William S. Burroughs in Lawrence, Kansas.
  • Cooperation with German poet and playwright Heiner Müller and choreographer Hans Kresnik on a play about Antonin Artaud.
  • 1990 One-man show in the Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne. Installation "Neunter November Nacht".
  • 1990 Collaboration with Marlene Dietrich on the book Some Facts about Myself, for the occasion of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Her essay that gave the book its title was the last text that Marlene Dietrich wrote in her life.[30]
  • 1991 Installation Kindskopf (Child's Head) in the Minoriten Church in Krems, Niederösterreichisches Landesmuseum (Museum of Lower Austria). Helnwein painted a 6x4 m (18x12 feet) child's head for the apse of the early Gothic basilica.
  • Helnwein finished 48 Portraits, a series of 48 monochrome red pictures of women (oil on canvas) as a counterpart to Gerhard Richter's "48 Portraits" of 1971, which depict only men in monochrome grey. The cycle of paintings was first shown at Galerie Koppelmann in Cologne, and later acquired by collector Peter Ludwig for the Collection of the Ludwig Museum in Cologne.
  • Helnwein began to focus on digital photography and computer-generated images which he often combines with classical oil-painting techniques.
  • 1993 One-man show at Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn.
  • Aktion-Reaktion, exhibition of the Austrian painters Arnulf Rainer, Hermann Nitsch, Günter Brus, and Helnwein, works from the Schömer collection, at the Foundation Fiecht, Austria.
  • 1994 Stage design, costumes, and make-up for Macbeth, a production of Hans Kresnik's Choreographic Theatre at Volksbühne Berlin.[31] The play was awarded the Theatre Prize of Berlin.
  • Helnwein curated and organized the first museum exhibition of Disney artist Carl Barks, the creator of the Donald Duck universe, Uncle Scrooge and Duckburg. The retrospective was shown in 10 European museums and seen by more than 400,000 visitors.[32]
  • 1997 Moved to Ireland.[33]
  • In the same year, the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg organized a Helnwein retrospective and published a monograph of the artist.[34]
  • German collectors Peter and Irene Ludwig donated 53 works of Helnwein to the collection of the State Russian Museum Saint Petersburg.
  • Photo-session with the German industrial metal band Rammstein. Their album Sehnsucht is released with six different covers by Gottfried Helnwein.[35]
  • 2000 The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art shows Helnwein's Mickey I, (1995, oil and acrylic on canvas, 83" x 122") in the exhibition The Darker Side of Playland: Childhood Imagery from the Logan Collection.[36]
  • Helnwein's Black Mirror, (Self-Portrait, polaroid, 1987) in the show Ghost in the Shell at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
  • 2001 Stage and costume design for the Hamburgische Staatsoper of Igor Stravinsky's opera The Rake's Progress.[37]
  • 2002 Helnwein established a studio in Los Angeles.
  • 2003 Premiere of the Helnwein documentary Ninth November Night, the Art of Gottfried Helnwein at the Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles. Director: Henning Lohner, Commentators: Sean Penn, Maximilian Schell, Jason Lee, Introductory text by Simon Wiesenthal. (Camera: Jason Lee, Darren Rydstrom, Bernd Reinhardt).[38]
  • Collaboration with Marilyn Manson on the multi-media project The Golden Age of Grotesque[39] and video productions like Doppelherz und Mobscene.
  • Installation and performance with Manson at the Volksbühne Berlin.[40]
  • Collaboration with Sean Penn on the Music Video 'The Barry Williams Show' by Peter Gabriel[40]
  • 2004 The Child, Works by Gottfried Helnwein, one-man show at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco Fine Arts Museums.[41] The exhibition is seen by 130,000 visitors. The San Francisco Chronicle calls the exhibition the most important show of a contemporary artist in 2004.[42]
  • Collaboration with Maximilian Schell for the Richard Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier[43] at Los Angeles Opera,[44] and Israeli Opera Tel Aviv.
  • Helnwein takes Irish citizenship.[45]
  • 2005 Helnwein one man show Beautiful Children at the Ludwig Museum Schloss Oberhausen and the Wilhelm-Busch-Museum Hannover.[46] Helnwein retrospective at the National Art Museum in Beijing.
  • 2006 Face it, one man show, Lentos Museum of Modern Art Linz[47]
  • The council of the city of Philadelphia honors Gottfried Helnwein for his artistic contributions in keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive[48]
  • 2007 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger acquired the painting "Death Valley (American Landscape I, 2002, oil and acrylic on canvas, 48 x 300 inches) for the Governor's Council Room at the California State Capitol in Sacramento.[49]
  • Participation in the exhibition Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper, De Young, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
  • 2008 Retrospective at Rudolfinum Gallery in Prague.
  • I Walk Alone, one man show at the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery, San Jose State University.
  • On the occasion of the infamous incest case of Amstetten in Austria, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung writes: "Amstetten between discomposure and media-hype: A dungeon amidst the town, a father inflicting martyrdom onto his children – how we struggle to put the pieces of the incomprehensible together. The dungeon in Amstetten touches something deep inside the marrow of the Austrians, their dark side, mirrored in the poems of their authors and in the Images of Gottfried Helnwein, depicting people with forkes pusched into their eyes. Or Girls with blood running down their legs. Helnwein's paintings are nightmares, that tell of the dungeons in our heads..."[50]
  • The last Child, Installation throughout the city of Waterford, Ireland.[51][52]
  • Kunst nach 1970 – Art after 1970, Albertina Museum Vienna.
  • 2009 Friedman Benda Gallery, New York represents Gottfried Helnwein, one man show.
  • Participation in two exhibitions at the Albertina Museum in Vienna: Body and Language – Contemporary Photography from the Albertina Collection, (Gottfried Helnwein, Chuck Close, Marie Jo Lafontaine, Jannis Kounnellis, Helmuth Newton, Erwin Wurm, John Coplans) and Masterpieces of Modern Art, The Permanent Collection of the Albertina and the Baitliner Collection.
  • 2010 For the Israeli Opera Gottfried Helnwein creates sets and costumes for Gil Shohat's opera adaptation of the play The Child Dreams by Hanoch Levin.
  • The Installation Ninth November Night in Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • 2011 Confrontation of the "48 Portraits" by Gerhard Richter and the "48 Portraits" by Gottfried Helnwein as a double-installation in the exhibition "Undeniable me" at Galerie Rudolfinum in Prague. In 1971/72 Gerhard Richter created an iconic set of paintings depicting 48 men that influenced Modernity, based on the black and white reproductions in encyclopaedias. Exactly 20 years later 1991/92, Gottfried Helnwein replied with the counterpart, also called "48 Portraits" depicting 48 women in monochromatic red.[53]
  • 2012 October 18 – Opening of 3 Helnwein exhibitions in Mexico City: Faith, Hope and Charity – Solo exhibition at the Museo Nacional de San Carlos, Song of the Aurora, Galería Hilario Galguera and Santos Inocentes, installation and exhibition at the Monumento a la Revolución.[54]
  • 2012 on 28 Dec Forbes Magazine published an article by Jonathon Keats under the heading: The True Impact of Violence on Childhood? Why every American ought to See the Paintings of Gottfried Helnwein. "Two days after the Sandy Hook school massacre, a survival gear company called Black Dragon Tactical composed a new slogan to promote sales of armored backpack inserts. “Arm the teachers,” the company declared on Facebook. “In the meantime, bulletproof the kids... The question may be political, but the keenest response is to be found in a museum in Mexico City, the Museo Nacional de San Carlos, at a retrospective of paintings and photographs by the Austrian-American artist Gottfried Helnwein. Helnwein’s extraordinary work depicts the fragile innocence of children. Devoid of grown-up sentimentalism, his images can be overwhelming, especially those that show how that innocence falters in an adult world.[55]
  • 2013 The retrospective at the Albertina Museum in Vienna was seen by 250.000 visitors and was most successful exhibition of a contemporary artist in the history of the Albertina.[56][57]

Gottfried Helnwein currently lives and works in Ireland and Los Angeles.

Personal life[edit]

Helnwein has four children with his wife Renate: Cyril, Mercedes, Ali Elvis and Wolfgang Amadeus, who are all artists. He moved to Dublin, Ireland in 1997. In 1998, he bought Castle Gurteen de la Poer in County Waterford where he now lives with his family.,[58][59] In 2004 Helnwein received Irish citizenship.[60] On 3 December 2005, Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese were married in a private, non-denominational ceremony at Helnwein's castle.[61] The wedding was officiated by surrealist film director Alejandro Jodorowsky,[62] Gottfried Helnwein was best man.[63] The wedding pictures appeared in the March 2006 edition of Vogue under the heading "The Bride Wore Purple".[64]

His daughter Mercedes Helnwein is also a visual artist and writer.


William Burroughs said of Helnwein:

"It is the function of the artist to evoke the experience of surprised recognition: to show the viewer what he knows but does not know that he knows. Helnwein is a master of surprised recognition."[65]

Helnwein is one of the few exciting painters we have today.
Norman Mailer[66]

Well, the world is a haunted house, and Helnwein at times is our tour guide through it. In his work he is willing to take on the sadness, the irony, the ugliness and the beauty. But not all of Gottfried's work is on a canvas. A lot of it is the way he's approached life. And it doesn't take someone knowing him to know that. You take one look at the paintings and you say "this guy has been around." You can't sit in a closet – and create this. This level of work is earned.
Sean Penn[67]

Gottfried Helnwein is my mentor. His fight for expression and stance against oppression are reasons why I chose him as an artistic partner. An artist that doesn't provoke will be invisible. Art that doesn't cause strong emotions has no meaning. Helnwein has that internalized.
Marilyn Manson[68]

Helnwein's subject matter is the human condition. The metaphor for his art is dominated by the image of the child, but not the carefree innocent child of popular imagination. Helnwein instead creates the profoundly disturbing yet compellingly provocative image of the wounded child. The child scarred physically and the child scarred emotionally from within.
Robert Flynn Johnson, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco[69]

Warhol is the pre-Helnwein ...
Dieter Ronte, Museum of Modern Art, Vienna[70]

Selected publications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator in Charge, Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator in Charge,"The Child – Works by Gottfried Helnwein", California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, ISBN 978-0-88401-112-5, 2004
  2. ^ Nirmala Nataraj, "Gottfried Helnwein's The Child – Innocence Lost", SF Station, San Francisco, 15 August 2004 Gottfried Helnwein's The Child | SF Station
  3. ^ Steven Winn, Chronicle Arts and Culture Critic, "Critics Choices 2004, Top Ten", The San Francisco Chronicle, 26 December 2004
  4. ^ Harry S.Parker III, Director of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, "The Child – Works by Gottfried Helnwein", Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2004
  5. ^ Gottfried Helnwein, "Memories of Duckburg", translation from German: "Micky Maus unter dem roten Stern", Zeit-Magazin, Hamburg, 12.May.1989. Gottfried Helnwein | TEXTS | Selected Authors | MEMORIES OF DUCKBURGAmerican Prayer
  6. ^ Petra Halkes, "A Fable in Pixels and Paint – Gottfried Helnwein's American Prayer". Image & Imagination, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005 (ISBN 978-0-7735-2969-4)
  7. ^ Alicia Miller, "The Darker Side of Playland: Childhood Imagery from the Logan Collection at SFMOMA", Artweek, US, 1 November 2000. Gottfried Helnwein | PRESS | English Press | 'THE DARKER SIDE OF PLAYLAND: CHILDHOOD IMAGERY FROM THE LOGAN COLLECTION' AT SFMOMASFMOMA San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  8. ^ Gottfried Helnwein, Peinlich, color pencil, india-ink, and watercolor on cardboard, 60 x 35cm, 1971 comic-helnwein
  9. ^ Julia Pascal, "Nazi Dreaming", New Statesman, UK, 10 April 2006 Gottfried Helnwein | PRESS | English Press | NAZI DREAMINGEpiphany I (Adoration of the Magi)
  10. ^ TIME Magazine Cover: John F. Kennedy, by Gottfried Helnwein, Time magazine, Vol. 122 No. 21, 14 November 1983 TIME Magazine Cover: John F. Kennedy – Nov. 14, 1983 – John F. Kennedy – U.S. Presidents – Kennedys – Politics
  11. ^ Gabriel Bauret, "Gottfried Helnwein", CAMERA International, Paris, 1 December 1992 GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN William S. Burroughs
  12. ^ Studio Helnwein, photo-session with Rammstein, Schloss Burgbrohl, 5 July 1998, Foto-Session with Rammstein Rammstein II
  13. ^ HISTORY – Past, Present and Future, CD cover booklet, Michael Jackson, 2005 Gottfried Helnwein | NEWS | News Update | HELNWEIN'S ART-WORKS IN MICHAEL JACKSON'S "HISTORY" ALBUMLittle Susie, HISTORY, Michel Jackson
  14. ^ Gottfried Helnwein, Marlene Dietrich, "Some Facts about Myself", Edition Cantz, Stuttgart, Kathleen Madden, New York, 1991, (ISBN 978-3-89322-226-1)
  15. ^ Evie Sullivan, Interview with Marilyn Manson, Inrock, Japan, July 2004 Interview with Marilyn Manson The Golden Age, Weeping Officer (Marilyn Manson)
  16. ^ Green Day: "American Idiots & the New Punk Explosion", The Disinformation Company, 2006, (Page 198), (ISBN 978-1-932857-32-0) Gottfried Helnwein | ARTIST | Bibliography | GREEN DAY: AMERICAN IDIOTS & THE NEW PUNK EXPLOSION
  17. ^ Julia Pascal, "Nazi Dreaming", New Statesman, UK, 10 April 2006
  18. ^ Gregory Fuller, "Endzeit-Stimmung – Düstere Bilder in Goldener Zeit", Du Mont Publishing House, Cologne, 1994.Gottfried Helnwein | TEXTE | ausgewählte Autoren | ENDZEITSTIMMUNG – DÜSTERE BILDER IN GOLDENER ZEITSelbstportrait
  19. ^ Peter Gorsen, "Gottfried Helnwein – The Divided Self", written for and published in the exhibition catalogue "Helnwein- Der Untermensch", Museum of Modern Art, Strasbourg, Edition BRAUS, Heidelberg, Coproduction: J&V Verlag, Wien, January 1988. ISBN 978-3-925835-07-0, page 50
  20. ^ Mitchell Waxman, "The Helnwein Epiphany", The Jewish Journal, Los Angeles, 23 July 2004 Gottfried Helnwein: Kristallnacht | PRESS | English Press | HELNWEIN EPIPHANY.Epiphany I (Adoration of the Magi)
  21. ^ Julia Pascal, "Nazi Dreaming", New Statesman, UK, April 10, 2006
  22. ^ Anthony Tommasini, "A 'Rosenkavalier' Without Ham and Schmaltz?", The New York Times, 31 May 2005.LOS ANGELES OPERA REVIEW – A 'Rosenkavalier' Without Ham and Schmaltz? – Review –
  23. ^ Gottfried Helnwein, Aktion Sorgenkind, Vienna, 1972, Works, Gottfried Helnwein | WORKS | Installations and Performances | Aktion Sorgekind
  24. ^ Kate Connolly, "Helnwein, the man who used his own blood to paint Hitler", The Guardian, UK, 16 May 2000 Gottfried Helnwein | PRESS | International Press | GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN, THE MAN WHO USED HIS OWN BLOOD TO PAINT HITLER
  25. ^ 34.Filmfestival of Berlin, "Helnwein", The film, Peter Hajek, ORF and ZDF (Austrian and German National Television), 1984 [1],[2]
  26. ^ Aktion Gott der Untermenschen, Camp Kopal, Austrian Army, (Kopal-Kaserne, St. Pölten-Spratzern, Panzerbrigade 10, österreichisches Bundesheer), 1987 Gottfried Helnwein | WORKS | Installations and Performances | "Gott der Untermenschen"
  27. ^ Gottfried Helnwein: Kristallnacht | NEWS | News Update | INSTALLATION "NINTH OF NOVEMBER NIGHT" Neunter November Nacht
  28. ^ Roland Mischke, "Aefflinge und Tschandalen", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11. October 1988.Gottfried Helnwein: Kristallnacht | PRESS | Selected Articles | ÄFFLINGE UND TSCHANDALENNeunter-November-Nacht
  29. ^ Simon Wiesenthal, "Thoughts", Ninth November Night, Installation by Gottfried Helnwein, 09. November 1988 Gottfried Helnwein: Kristallnacht | TEXTS | Selected Authors | THOUGHTSNeunter November Nacht
  30. ^ Some Facts about Myself, Helnwein, Dietrich, Edition Cantz, Stuttgart, 1990, (ISBN 978-3-89322-226-1) Gottfried Helnwein | NEWS | News Update | ZUSAMMENARBEIT MIT MARLENE DIETRICH AN DEM BUCH "SOME FACTS ABOUT MYSELF"
  31. ^ Gottfried Helnwein | ARTIST | Bibliography | SHAKESPEARE SURVEY – SHAKESPEARE AND POLITICSScene from Macbeth
  32. ^ "The Art of Gottfried Helnwein and the Comic Culture", The Carl Barks exhibition, Helnwein-Comic: Carl Bark Exhibition
  33. ^ Gottfried Helnwein | ARTIST | Studio | IRELAND
  34. ^ The Helnwein Retrospective at the State Russian Museum St. Petersburg Helnwein Retrospective
  35. ^ Rammstein, "Sehnsucht", Motor Music GmbH, Hamburg, 1997 Archived 10 February 2013 at WebCite
  36. ^ Alicia Miller, "The Darker Side of Playland: Childhood Imagery from the Logan Collection at SFMOMA", Artweek, US, 20 August 2000 'The Darker Side of Playland: Childhood Imagery from the Logan Collection' at SFMOMA Mouse
  37. ^ – Section Theater and Film – The Rake's Progress
  39. ^ – Section Photography – The Golden Age
  40. ^ a b Volksbühne Berlin: The Golden Age of Grotesque Helnwein painting girl for the "mObscene"-video
  41. ^ "The Child: Works by Gottfried Helnwein", one man show, 31 July – 28 November 2004, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Legion of Honor [3]
  42. ^ Steven Winn, Chronicle Arts and Culture Critic, "Critics Choices 2004", The San Francisco Chronicle, 26 December 2004 Gottfried Helnwein | NEWS | News Update | THE CHILD EXHIBITION – 130,000 VISITORS- THE REVIEWS"The Child", works by Gottfried Helnwein
  43. ^ Der Rosenkavalier – reviews, reactions Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss
  44. ^ Mark Swed, "Strange but True", The Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2005
  45. ^ Déise delight — a Suir bet
  46. ^ "Beautiful Children" at Ludwig Museum Schloss Oberhausen and Wilhelm-Busch-Museum Hannover, Germany, 2005 Gottfried Helnwein | NEWS | News Update | BEAUTIFUL CHILDRENI Walk Alone
  47. ^ FACE IT – Gottfried Helnwein – One man show Lentos Museum of Modern Art, Linz
  48. ^ Resolution of the council of the city of Philadelphia, No. 060769, 19 October 2006.Gottfried Helnwein: Kristallnacht | NEWS | News Update | COMMEMORATING THE 68TH ANNIVERSARY OF KRISTALLNACHT AND RECOGNIZING THE ARTISTIC CONTRIBUTIONS OF GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN IN KEEPING THE MEMORY OF THE HOLOCAUST ALIVE.Installation "Ninth November Night"
  49. ^ The hanging of "Death Valley", (American Landscape I, 2002, oil and acrylic on canvas, 48 x 300 inches) at the State Capitol in Sacramento, April 2007 Gottfried Helnwein | NEWS | News Update | GOVERNOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER RECEIVES HELNWEIN AT THE STATE CAPITOL IN SACRAMENTODeath Valley (American Landscape I)
  50. ^ "At the Abyss – Incest Case in Austria", Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Holger Gertz, 28. April 2008 Gottfried Helnwein | NEWS | News Update | AT THE ABYSSKiss of Judas
  51. ^ "Bloodied but unbowed", The Sunday Times, Gerry McCarthy, 14. September 2008, Gottfried Helnwein | NEWS | News Update | BLOODIED BUT UNBOWED
  52. ^ "The last Child", Installation in Waterford,
  53. ^ Installation 48 portraits by Gerhard Richter and 48 portraits by Gottfried Helnwein, in the "Undeniable me"exhibition at Galerie Rudolfinum, 2011 Gottfried Helnwein | ARTIST | Exhibitions | INSTALLATION "48 PORTRAITS" GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN AND GERHARD RICHTER AT GALERIE RUDOLFINUM, PRAGUEInstallation "48 Portraits" by Gottfried Helnwein and "48 Portraits" by Gerhard Richter
  54. ^ [4][5]Helnwein exhibitions in Mexico City, 2012
  55. ^ Forbes, US, Jonathon Keats, Dec 28, 2012
  56. ^ Madonna mit dem Kind und der SS, Berliner Zeitung, Arno Widmann, 6.10.2013 [6]
  57. ^ Retrospective at the Albertina Museum,
  58. ^ "The Helnweins will see you now", The New York Times, Dec. 13. 2014
  59. ^ Gottfried Helnwein | ARTIST | Studio | Ireland
  60. ^ Gottfried Helnwein | IRELAND | Ireland Special | HELNWEIN RECEIVES IRISH CITIZENSHIPDocument of Irish Citizenship
  61. ^ Maeve Quigley, "Rocker ties Knot with Dita", Sunday Mirror, UK, 4 December 2005 Gottfried Helnwein | IRELAND | Ireland Special | ROCKER TIES KNOT WITH DITA
  62. ^ People magazine, "Marilyn Manson Marries Girlfriend in Ireland", 4 December 2005
  63. ^ The wedding ceremony, Dita and Manson at Castle De la Poer, Ireland 2005, Alejandro Jodorowsky officiates at the wedding, Helnwein is best man, Gottfried Helnwein | ARTIST | Studio | Wedding ceremony, Dita and Manson at Castle De la Poer
  64. ^ Hamish Bowles, Steven Klein, "The Bride Wore Purple", Vogue, pages 546–556, March 2006
  65. ^ "Helnwein Faces", 1992, Edition Stemmle, Switzerland, pages 6–7, ISBN 978-3-7231-0447-7 (exhibition-catalogue), ISBN 978-3-7231-0427-9 (hardcover)
  66. ^ From a letter by Norman Mailer to Helnwein's wife Renate, written in Provincetown, Massachusetts, 23 June 1989
  67. ^ Statement by Sean Penn in the documentary "Ninth November Night", a Film about Gottfried Helnwein and his Installation for the 50. Anniversary of "Kristallnacht" at Ludwig Museum in Cologne, 1988 and other references to the Holocaust in his Work. Director Henning Lohner, Los Angeles 2003
  68. ^ "Ich bin Amerikas Alptraum", Interview by Christoph Dallach, Jörg Böckem, Der Spiegel, Hamburg, 5 May 2003, page 178, DER SPIEGEL 19/2003 – Ich bin Amerikas Alptraum
  69. ^ "The Child – Works by Gottfried Helnwein", The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, 2004, pages 9–23, ISBN 978-0-88401-112-5
  70. ^ Essay by Dieter Ronte about Andy Warhol, Profil, Vienna, 1984

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]