is a Public Service Project for the Documentation of All Art
The Child: Works by Gottfried Helnwein
curated by Robert Flynn Johnson, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, July 31-Nov. 28
Austrian-born and educated and now living Los Angeles, Helnwein employs a hyperrealist manner that will remind Americans of Gerhard Richter but, if anything, works to opposite effect. Rather than re-confirm post-modernist cynicism, Helnwein rekindles post-war anguish. This selection, going back more than three decades, emphasizes his preoccupation with the image of the child, from early Nitsch- and Schwarzkogler-influenced photo-actions (with the requisite bandages) to recent large portrait-like heads and depictions of Christ-child-like babes attracting odd, menacing crowds. A perverse streak runs through the images, but it’s not pederasty: tinged with surrealism, it’s an enduring shame and anger at the Nazi past – and the artist’s suspicion that Naziism hasn’t been eradicated.