November 9, 2003
Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Center
Los Angeles
Johnathon Keats
The Art of Humanity
Helnwein - Ninth November Night
On Sunday, November 9, at 7:00 p.m. the Museum of Tolerance commemorates the 65th anniversary of the infamous 1938 Nazi “Night of Broken Glass” (Kristallnacht) pogrom which targeted 1,000 synagogues in Germany and Austria and marked the beginning of the end of European Jewry. The commemoration is highlighted by the screening of a documentary by renowned Austrian artist, Gottfried Helnwein, 9th November Night, who has committed himself and his art to reminding the world of the Holocaust. The documentary is based upon his 1988 exhibit of seventeen children’s portraits that were displayed in commemoration of Kristallnacht in Cologne, Germany. Just days into the exhibit, these portraits were vandalized.. “The fury with which the neo-nazis reacted to these portraits is understandable inasmuch as it is the very same fury with which they have for years been fighting against The Diary of Anne Frank,” said famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. “The murder of children rouses abhorrence and conflict in every human, whether they are motivated by ideology or insanity. The urge to destroy has survived; the portraits bear witness to its rage.”
Ninth November Night
Ninth November Night, 1938, was the night the synagogues burned in Germany.
Jewish people were killed in the streets without police interference, their businesses and homes were looted and the windows of their stores were shattered. Inspired by the splinters of glass that covered the streets of Germany the next morning, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels cynically called this night "Kristallnacht" - crystal night.
50 years later, Austrian-born artist Gottfried Helnwein erected a 100 meter long wall
of pictures in the city center of Cologne, between the Ludwig Museum and the cathedral to commemorate this night.
He confronted the passers-by with larger-than-life children's faces in a seemingly endless row – children lined up as though “to be sorted”.
The central theme in Gottfried Helnwein’s work is the human being. As a victim but also as a perpetrator. No other German-speaking artist of the post-war generation has so hauntingly dealt with the National Socialistic legacy and such issues as fascism, violence and intolerance.
He has developed his own provocative, disturbing and to some extent shocking visual language in which its passion above all is dedicated to the weakest of the victims: the children.
His images are a constant silent appeal against collective denial and repression.
For the "Ninth of November Night" installation Gottfried Helnwein has consciously foregone using documentary archive material. He is chiefly interested in the attitude behind the catastrophe, the roots of the Holocaust - the delusion that one is able to measure the worthiness or unworthiness of humans by the form of the nose and ears, by the hair and color of the eyes.
The perverse "healing precept of the chosen Nordic race," which vouched for the pure and the good, described a whole gamut of lives not worth living, and which were considered to be the source of all evils such as crime, immorality and even illness. The notion being that the world would achieve an idyllic state when cleansed of inferior genotypes.
On November 9th, 2003, for the 65th anniversary of “Kristallnacht”,
NINTH NOVEMBER NIGHT - a documentary on the references to children and the Holocaust in the art of Gottfried Helnwein - premiered at the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance Los Angeles.
Director: Henning Lohner
Co-Director & Editor: Max Carlson
Commentators: Sean Penn, Maximilian Schell, Jason Lee
Introductory text by Simon Wiesenthal
Director of Photography: Darren Rydstrom
Additional Camera: Jason Lee, Bernd Reinhardt
Helmut Lohner talkes with Gottfried Helnwein
Project Curator: Gisela Guttman
The "Ninth November Night" catalogue at amazon:
Page 15 William Burroughs, excerpt from Helnwein's Work , 1990
Page 20 Roland Mischke, excerpt from Äfflinge und Tschandalen, Ninth November Night - a lane of pictures
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, October 11, 1988
Page 27 Simon Wiesenthal, Thoughts.
Gottfried Helnwein, Neunter November Nacht - Selektion, catalogue,
Ludwig Museum, Cologne, 1988.
Page 32 Charles-Henri Favrod, Director of the Musée de l'Elysée Lausanne, Reichskristallnacht – Night and Fog.
Gottfried Helnwein, Ninth November Night - Selektion, catalogue, 1990.
Page 33-34 Reinhold Mißelbeck, Curator for Photography and New Media, Ludwig Museum Cologne, Ninth November Night
Gottfried Helnwein, Ninth November Night-Selektion, catalogue,1988.
Page 38 Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator in charge, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Excerpt from Helnwein, catalogue, Sandelson Gallery, London, 2001.
Page 40-43 Johnathon Keats The Art of Humanity, 2003.
Jonathon Keats is a novelist, artist, and critic. He lives in San Francisco.
Page 46 Alexander Borovsky, Curator for Contemporary Art at the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, excerpt from The Helnwein Passion.
Helnwein, monograph, Palace Edition, The State Russian Museum St. Petersburg, 1997.
Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft, Cologne, Germany, 1998.
Page 50 Gottfried Helnwein, My Art is not an Answer - it is a Question, 2003.
Page 56 Peter Zawrel, Director of the Museum of Lower Austria.
Excerpt from Against Harmlessness in Art.
Apokalypse, catalogue for the one man show and installation by Gottfried Helnwein at the Dominican Church, Krems, 1999.
Page 64 Mic Moroney, excerpt from The Murmur of the Innocents.
Helnwein, catalogue, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Ireland, 2001.
Mic Moroney is a writer, artist, and critic. He lives in Dublin.
Page 68 Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator in charge, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Excerpt from Helnwein, catalogue, Sandelson Gallery, London, 2001.
Page 68 Chris Dooley, excerpt from Police Investigates Kilkenny Art Attacks.
The Irish Times, 18. August 2001.
Page 68 Mic Moroney, excerpt from The Murmur of the Innocents.
Helnwein, catalogue, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Ireland, 2001.
Page 68 Peter Selz, Professor Emeritus, Department of Art History, University of California, Berkeley. Former Curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Founding Director of the Berkeley Art Museum.
Excerpt from Helnwein: The Artist as Provocateur.
Helnwein, monograph, The State Russian Museum St.Petersburg, 1997.
Page 73 Heiner Müller, Black Mirror.
From Der Untermensch, - Self-portraits of Gottfried Helnwein.
One man show at the Musée d’Art Moderne, Strasbourg, 1987.
Catalogue Edition Braus, Heidelberg, 1987.

Translation: German/English: Neil Galanter, Edward Martin, Gertraud Trivedi, Maria Clay.
Russian/English: The State Russian Museum St. Petersburg.
Layout: Anouk de Jonge
Printing: Marina Graphics, Los Angeles
Complete text:
The documentary and this catalogue were made possible thanks to the generous assistance of the Austrian Federal Chancellery, Department of Culture,
the Modernism Gallery San Francisco and Mary and Steven Swig.
Special thanks to Gisela Guttman and Renate Helnwein for their endless support and passion for this project.
And thanks to everybody who supported the presentation of the Ninth November Night project of Gottfried Helnwein in Los Angeles, to Franz Morak, Austrian Secretary of State for the Arts and Media, to Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Consul General of Austria, Martin Muller, Gavin Spanierman, Spanierman Contemporary, N.Y.C; Claudia Teissig, Jason Lee, Hans Janitschek, Ariane Riecker, Van Carlson, Mary Rodriguez, Mercedes Helnwein, and to the Simon Wiesenthal Center / Museum of Tolerance Los Angeles, Liebe Geft, Director and Lorraine Sais, Coordinator, Arts and Lectures for hosting the presentation.
page 1 and page 84: From the book "Der Mann der Hitler die Ideen gab - Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels by Wilfried Daim", Ueberreuter, Wien 1994
Page 2 - 3: Photograph Bernhard Schaub, Cologne
Page 4 - 7: Photographs Martin Dettloff, Berlin
Page 57 - 61: Photographs Alfred Pohl, Vienna
All other Images and photographs: copyright : © by Gottfried Helnwein, 2003

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