News Update
January 1, 2011
whitewall
contemporary art and lifestyle magazine, NY
Amani Olu
Photographs by Rafael Y. Herman
Gottfried Helnwein
INTERVIEW
We met with Helnwein a day after his solo exhibition opened at Friedman Benda in New York. The minute he sat down and started talking, it was as if we were catching up with an old friend. He held nothing back. We discussed our respective childhood experiences, Austrian guilt, isolation, his practice, the importance of art, and what it's like to live in a castle. Helnwein is a real person.
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Gottfried Helnwein at the opening of the exhibition "I was a Child", Friedman Benda Gallery New York
2010
The Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein uses painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, performance, and installation to reveal grim aspects of the human condition. Born in Vienna in the wake of World War 11, he creates work that engages social, political, and historical issues, while challenging viewers to consider how those issues influence their lives. In Helnwein's earlier hyper-realistic paintings, and later in his installations and photographic works, he has often included children - namely, bloodied and bandaged girls who have suffered some unknown or unspeakable act. These wounded girls are not literal manifestations of violence inflicted on children, but function as a metaphor for lost innocence. Such subjects have made him a contentious figure, with many viewing his work as provocative and controversial. When asked if he thinks his work is disturbing, he has stated, "No, but I am disturbed by this world."
Despite some backlash, Helnwein's work has enjoyed much critical acclaim. He has exhibited nationally and internationally at such institutions as the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, and the Galerie Rudolfinum in Prague. His work is also in various public and private collections, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, and the Musee de I'Elysee in Lausanne. Last year, he received the Steiger Art Award, which honors figures who have shown directness, openness, humanitarianism, and tolerance. Throughout his career, he has maintained an impressive coterie of friends and patrons, including Sean Penn, Andy Warhol, Ben Kingsley, Marilyn Manson (who married Dita Von Teese in Helnwein's castle, where the host was the best man), William S. Burroughs, Norman Mailer, Lou Reed Arnold Schwarzenegger, land Lisa Marie Presley, to name just a few.
We met with Helnwein a day after his solo exhibition opened at Friedman Benda in New York. The minute he sat down and started talking, it was as if we were catching up with an old friend. He held nothing back. We discussed our respective childhood experiences, Austrian guilt, isolation, his practice, the importance of art, and what it's like to live in a castle. Helnwein is a real person.
at the studio
2010




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