Internet
March 20, 2006
www.gottfried-helnwein-child.com
GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN - THE CHILD
"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
Roter Mund ( Detail )
watercolor on cardboard, 1978
"Children and lunatics cut the Gordian knot, which the poet spends his life patiently trying to untie."
Jean Cocteau

"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
Picasso

"I wanted to discuss the suffering of humanity in general, but perhaps we'd better confine ourselves to the sufferings of children."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Brothers Karamazov

"The genius of art finds sanctuary among children and madmen to survive. That is who we are."
Marilyn Manson
about his collaboration with Helnwein

"I always feel so much more comfortable communicating with children than with grown-ups. Everything is far more simple and makes so much more sense – to me at least. In the world of a child anything is possible, there are no limits for the imagination, and magic and miracles are a natural part of it – art and life is one.
Communicating with adults, on the other hand, sometimes seems to be so limited and incredibly complicated and above all boring. Unfortunately it’s the grown-ups that rule the world and make the laws and all kids have to go through their training-program called education. Once they come out on the other side they are usually broken, the magic is gone and then they can be citizens, soldiers, clerks, politicians, prostitutes or other interesting things like that.
Funny enough it doesn’t always work. Some kids seem to be relatively immune to the program, and one day I realized: that’s what almost all artist have in common – to a certain degree they all managed to continue being a child.
I feel there is a strong bond between artists and children and all other sacred fools."
Gottfried Helnwein
in an interview with Yuichi Konno for Yaso, Japan

" Helnwein is the next generation’s final ally, a skilled provocateur forcing us to confront the legacy we have bequeathed upon our children. Helnwein is our chronicler, our conscience, the antidote to our failing memories. He refuses to let us forget."
Colin Berry,
art-critic, writer

"In addition to sketches of ballet-dancing hares, booted cats, and strangled and stuffed ducks, there are studies or imaginative drawings of the heads of ill-treated children, whose mouths are grotesquely disfigured by braces and pink coloured scars. The grimaces on these mocking distorted faces signalize disobedience, opposition and turmoil, as well as a kind of childlike autonomy in the depraved world of adults. The grin found on the faces of ill-treated children, a grotesque picture puzzle which includes both the martyrdom and subversion of mankind is entirely Helnwein’s invention. It is manifested in the metamorphic images of injured bodies.
It is an obsessive pattern which is repeated in Helnwein’s pictoral representation of the world and in his staged artistic actions, serving as a metaphor for the invulnerability and invincibility deeply seated in man..."
Peter Gorsen

“Neben Skizzen von Ballet tanzenden Hasen und gestiefelten Katzen, strangulierten und gestopften Enten finden sich Studien oder eher Wunschzeichnungen zu malträtierten Kinderköpfen, deren Münder durch Spangen und rosige Narben grauenhaft entstellt sind, aber gleichzeitig durch ihre höhnischen, Fratzen schneidenden Grimassen Ungehorsam, Widerstand, Aufruhr, so etwas wie kindliche Autonomie in der depravierten Erwachsenenwelt signalisieren. Das Feixen des malträtierten Kindes, ein groteskes Vexierbild, in das Märtyrertum und Subversion der Menschenkreatur gleichermaßen eingeflossen sind, ist ganz allein Helnweins Erfindung. Sie offenbart sich in den vielen Metamorphosen des Phantasmas vom versehrten Körper als obsessives Grundmuster seiner Bildwelt und aktionistischen Darstellungen, als Metapher einer im Innersten des Menschen vorhandenen Unverletzlichkeit und Unbesiegbarkeit...”
Peter Gorsen
Excerpt from an essay for the Helnwein-exhibition at the Albertina Museum, Vienna, 1985,
“GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN, DER KÜNSTLER ALS AGRESSOR UND VERMALEDEITER MORALIST”

"Das Bild des Menschen in der Leidensnot, des unschuldig Verfolgten und Gequälten, das aus der Kunstgeschichte in zahllosen Märtyererszenen bekannt ist, entsteht immer wieder neu. In den Bildern von Gottfried Helnwein ist Betroffenheit über Schmerz und Ausweglosigkeit in der Situation des Kindes dargestellt. Das Kind ist die Gestalt des Unterlegenen, Abhängigen, Ausgelieferten und Ausgenützten. Unter dem Druck einer auf Anpassung drängenden Erwachsenenwelt werden ihm tiefe Verletzungen eingeprägt, entstellende Traumata.
Die Bandagen bei Helnwein oder schon zuvor bei den Wiener Aktionisten (Schwarzkoglers Bandagenaktionen) verweisen sowohl auf die Entstellung des Körpers wie auf das Verborgene dieser Verletzungen. Sie üben auf dem Hintergrund einer Tabuisierung von Verwundung, Behindertenexistenz und Tod eine starke Wirkung aus und setzen heftige Reaktionen frei."
Herbert Muck
Philosoph und Theologe, Kunstwerke und religiöse Vorstellungen des 20. Jahrhunderts
"Adults bring a trunkful of contradictory cultural baggage to any representations of children. That's what makes the work of Helnwein so powerful. In his show, "The Child," at the San Francisco Fine Arts Museum, deformed infants and bandaged children stir feelings of pity, defiance and uneasiness about exploitation. There's an ambiguously disturbing painting of a girl aiming a gun into an open refrigerator and another of a bare-breasted mother and child surrounded by Aryan soldiers.
But the most haunting images may be the ones of children who seem strangely oblivious to the adult gaze. Some of Helnwein's children peer right past the onlooker. Others sleep, dreaming of anything but us behind their silky eyelids. And some, like the enormous, half- shadowed "Head of a Child" see straight through us with cloudless, infinite blue eyes."
Steven Winn
San Francisco Chronicle, Arts and Culture Critic




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