Born in 1948 in Vienna, Helnwein’s career spans more than three decades. He lives and works in Los Angeles and has a home base in Ireland as well.
His art ranges from the macabre to the sublime. Figures, dead or alive, predominate in large groups and smaller encounters. There are many singular figures and portraits of celebrities and others, as well as self portraits. There are also land- and cityscapes, magazine and CD covers, installations and set designs.
One theme returns often: "The Child," which was also the title of Helnwein’s first major museum solo show in in North America (San Francisco Fine Arts Museum, 2004).
Photographing and painting children, sometimes adored, more often traumatized or injured, threatened or witnessing violence, the artist appears possessed by the suffering that childhood’s particular vulnerability can engender.