(Austrian, b.1948) is a multi-faceted artist who works in painting, photography, installation, and performance art. He studied art at the Vienna Higher College for Graphic Art from 1965 to 1969, and continued at the University of Visual Art in Vienna from 1969 to 1973, where he was awarded the Master-Class Prize, the Theodor-Körner Prize, and the Kardinal-König Prize. Helnwein’s work often covers controversial subject matter in politics, history, and psychological and sociological anxiety. He is associated with the Hyperrealism movement, as shown by his early work that used watercolors to create hyper-realistic paintings of wounded children. One example is his Beautiful Victim
watercolor painted in 1974, featuring a child with extensive bandaging covering much of her face and head. This use of children continued throughout his career, accompanied by a variety of self-portraits, such as his God of the Sub-humans
, photographed in 1986.
Helnwein is not limited to real subject matter, with his work displaying influences of German Expressionism and American Pop Art. This influence is most readily seen in his comic subjects, in particular, his Disney characters. His interest in this subject stems from an early childhood exposure to German-speaking Donald Duck. His Mouse I
, presented in 2000 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and painted in 1995, is an oil and acrylic on canvas showing an iconic Mickey Mouse in stark black and white against a dark background. Helnwein works in both Los Angles and Ireland. His published books include a collaboration with Marlene Dietrich about the fall of the Berlin Wall titled Some Thoughts about Myself
Helnwein has been widely exhibited, with shows at the Albertina
in Vienna in 1985, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco in 2004, and throughout the city of Waterford, Ireland, with his The Last Child
installation in 2008. Helnwein is represented by various galleries, including the Friedman Benda Gallery in New York, Modernism Inc.
in San Francisco, Galeria Hilario Galguera in Leipzig, Mexico, Collectors Contemporary in Singapore, and the Fenton Gallery in Cork Ireland.