• "You can't show anyone anything he hasn't seen already, on some level - any more than you can tell anyone anything he doesn't already know. It is the function of the artist to evoke the experience of surprised recognition: to show the viewer what he knows but does not know that he knows. Helnwein is a master of surprised recognition."
    William S. Burroughs
    Quote from William Burrough's essay "Helnwein's Work", which he wrote in October 1990 in Lawrence, Kansas. The essay was first published by the Museum of Lower Austria in the catalogue for the Helnwein Installation "Kindskopf", 1991, at the Minoriten Church in Krems, Austria. 2nd publication: "Helnwein Faces", 1992, Edition Stemmle, Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
  • "Helnwein is one of the very few exciting painters we have today."
    Norman Mailer
    In a letter from June 23, 1989 to Gottfried Helnwein's wife Renate. "...I was taken with his (Helnwein's) work. He is one of the very few exciting painters we have today...
  • "Not all of Gottfried's work is on a canvas. A lot of it is the way he's approached life. And it doesn't take someone knowing him to know that. You take one look at the paintings and you say "this guy has been around." You can't sit in a closet - and create this. This level of work is earned. As an artist my strongest reaction to Helnwein's work is that it challenges me to be better at what I do. There are very few people that achieve utter excellence in what they do. And I think that Gottfried Helnwein is certainly one of those people."
    Sean Penn
    Actor, Director
    Interview in 'Ninth November Night', a documentary about the art of Gottfried Helnwein, by Henning Lohner, Los Angeles, 2003
  • "How does a friendly person like Helnwein stand making his - excellent - painting into a mirror of the terrors of this century? Or is it that he can't stand not doing it? Does his mirror just reflect the attitude of the century? TERROR WITHOUT END IS BETTER THAN AN ENDING IN TERROR. It comes from the over-evaluation of death, a consequence of "statistics" making it taboo. Perseus guillotines the Gorgon in the mirror, - and when the head falls, it is his own. How many heads does a person/man have in our age of mirrors?"
    Heiner Müller
    Excerpt from the essay "Black Mirror", which Heiner Müller wrote 1986 in Berlin for the Helnwein exhibition “Der Untermensch - Self-portraits from 1970 - 1987" at the Musée d’Art Moderne, Strasbourg, 1987, Edition Braus, Heidelberg. ISBN: 3925835075
  • "For Helnwein, creativity is not a vocation but a mission. His 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
    From his essay for the catalogue of the solo show "The Child - Works by Gottfried Helnwein", California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2004
  • "There are weighty reasons for considering Helnwein the legitimate heir to Beuys and Warhol."
    Klaus Honnef
    Curator for Photography, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn
    'The Subversive Power of Art - A Concept Artist before the Turn of the Millenium', Essay by Klaus Honnef for the monograph 'Helnwein', published by the State Russian Museum St. Petersburg, 1997
  • "Warhol is the pre-Helnwein ..."
    Dieter Ronte
    Director, Museum of Modern Art, Vienna
    Essay by Dieter Ronte about Andy Warhol, for the Viennese news magazine Profil, Vienna, 1984
  • "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
    'Gottfried Helnwein at the Legion of Honor', Artweek, Volume 35, Issue 8, California, October 1, 2004
  • "Helnwein is a very fine artist and one sick motherfucker."
    Robert Crumb
    In a letter to his Gallerist Martin Muller of Modernism Gallery San Francisco
  • "Gottfried is one of my mentors - on any artistic thing I've done."
    Marilyn Manson
    musician, artist
    Interview with Marilyn Manson, conducted by Evie Sullivan for INROCK Japan and NEWS Austria. It took place in Los Angeles, July, 2004
  • "I'll never forget the sensation I had at the unveiling of Gottfried Helnwein's "Kindskopf" (Head of a Child) in the Russian Museum. And not just because this enormous canvas (six metres in height, four in breadth), well-known from reproductions, seemed to operate in a whole new way in the real, quasi-monumental space of the museum's exhibition-hall, - I realised that I was looking at the inner content of this innovative picture from a whole new point of view."
    Alexander Borovsky
    Curator for Contemporary Art at the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
    Essay for the monograph of the Helnwein-Retrospctive in the The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, 1997
  • "The most powerful images that deal with Nazism and Holocaust themes are by Anselm Kiefer and Helnwein, although, Kiefer's work differs considerably from Helnwein's in his concern with the effect of German aggression on the national psyche and the complexities of German cultural heritage. But Kiefer and Helnwein's work are both informed by the personal experience of growing up in post-war German speaking countries... William Burroughs said that the American revolution begins in books and music, and political operatives implement the changes after the fact. To this maybe we can add art. And Helnwein's art might have the capacity to instigate change by piercing the veil of political correctness to recapture the primitive gesture inherent in art."
    Mitchell Waxman
    Jewish Journal, Los Angeles
    "Helnwein ‘Epiphany’ Afflicts Comfortable", The Jewish Journal, Los Angeles, July 23, 2004
  • "Technische Meisterschaft und auch die Konsequenz einer packenden sozialkritischen Thematik offenbaren sich in dieser Ausstellung (Lentos Museum of Modern Art Linz, 2006): Gewalt, Schmerz, Verletzung werden dargestellt. Den Körper ebenso wie die Psyche betreffend. Helnwein dokumentiert hier einen künstlerischen Reifegrad, der eine weitere Steigerung kaum vorstellbar macht. Seine Eingriffe sind von einer schmerzhaften Unmittelbarkeit, deren emotionale Energie weit über die großen Bildformate hinaus den Raum und sein Publikum ergreift."
    Irene Judmayer
    Art-critic, Oberösterreichische Nachrichten
    "Von der Faszination des Grauens", anlässlich der Einzelausstellung im Lentos Museum in Linz, Oberösterreichische Nachrichten, 9. März 2006
  • "As long ago as 1963 a fellow-artist and I imagined the horrible future of a free-lance artist. The topic of our discussion was not so much finances as the necessity of letting go and totally abandoning oneself. At the time I had the idea of inventing something like a "fitness training of geniuses". In retrospect I must say that I know very few artists who have persevered in this imaginary training programme. Gottfried Helnwein is one of them."
    Wolfgang Bauer
    poet, playwright
    Essay "Inspired by Helnwein" for the catalogue of the Installation and one man show "Apokalypse" at the Dominican Church in Krems, Museum of Lower Austria, 1999
  • "The Viennese Helnwein is part of a tradition going back to the 18th century, to which Messerschmidt's grimacing sculptures also belong, on which one of Freud's pupils wrote a long treatise. One sees, too, the common ground of these works with those of Arnulf Rainer or Nitsch, two other Viennese, who display their own bodies in the frame of reference of injury, pain, and death. One can also see this fascination for body language goes back to the expressive gesture in the work of Egon Schiele."
    Roland Recht
    Chief Curator of Museums, Strasbourg
    Essay "Les autoportraits de Gottfried Helnwein: Une imagerie de la terreur (The Self-portraits of Gottfried Helnwein: A World of Horror in Pictures)" for the solo show "Helnwein - Der Untermensch" at the Musée d’Art Moderne, Strasbourg, 1987. "Helnwein- Der Untermensch, Self-Portraits 1970–1987", Edition Braus, Heidelberg, 1988.
  • "The paintings and pastels by Gottfried Helnwein appear to be photorealist. But unlike his sharp-focus colleagues, Helnwein's paintings carry powerful covert messages. He is a politically committed artist ... and in his case, you get more than what you see. His work, in a multiplicity of media, manifests Nietzsche's assertion that "Authenticity of the creative artist can supply meaning to the despair and absurdity of existence."
    Peter Selz
    Professor Emeritus, Department of Art History, University of California, Berkeley - Former Curater at the Musem of Modern Art, New York
    Essay "Helnwein: The Artist as Provocateur" for the Monograph of the Helnwein-Retrospctive at the The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Palace Edition, St. Petersburg, 1997. 2nd edition: Koenemann, Cologne, 1988
  • "For Helnwein, the child is the symbol of innocence, but also of innocence betrayed. In today’s world, the malevolent forces of war, poverty, and sexual exploitation and the numbing, predatory influence of modern media assault the virtue of children. Helnwein’s work concerning the child includes paintings, drawings, and photographs, and it ranges from subtle inscrutability to scenes of stark brutality. Of course, brutal scenes—witness The Massacre of the Innocents—have been important and regularly visited motifs in the history of art. What makes Helnwein’s art significant is its ability to make us reflect emotionally and intellectually on the very expressive subjects he chooses. Many people feel that museums should be a refuge in which to experience quiet beauty divorced from the coarseness of the world. This notion sells short the purposes of art, the function of museums, and the intellectual curiosity of the public. Works by Gottfried Helnwein will inspire and enlighten many; it is also sure to upset some. It is not only the right but the responsibility of the museum to present art that deals with important and sometimes controversial topics in our society."
    Harry S.Parker III
    Director of Museums, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
    Essay for the catalogue of the solo show "The Child - Works by Gottfried Helnwein", California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2004
  • "To those who maintain that art has become toothless for not asking the big questions, Helnwein stands out for having credibly staked out the moral high ground."
    David M. Roth
    Northern California Art
    "Gottfried Helnwein @ The Crocker Art Museum", SquareCylinder, Northern California Art, 11 March 2011
  • "Gottfried Helnwein's self-portraits in his "Black Mirror" series reach far beyond the boundaries of the ordinary self-portrait. They reflect the inner wants and desperation which lies within the viewer's own self. Helnwein points out the new form of the modern self-portrait which involves the creator and viewer alike."
    Toshiharu Ito
    critic, art-historian, professor at Tama Art Univ, Tokyo
    "HELNWEIN ヘルンバイン写真集, The photographic Self-Portraits", monograph, Libro Port Publishing, Japan, 1989
  • "It is hard to deny, that the aggression- and vulnerability-symbolism of Helnwein's well-known and multiple-varied selfportrait of a bandaged head, eyes blinded by surgical forks and mouth opened wide to form a scream; is something of a self-evident metaphor for an elementary human stipulation of today's existence."
    Klaus Albrecht Schroeder
    Director of the Albertina Museum, Vienna
    "Das Vordergründige ist das Abgründige - Helnweins Beitrag zu einer Hagiographie des 20.Jahrhunderts", Essay für den Katalog der Ausstellung "Die lädierte Welt - Realismus und Realismen in Österreich", Kunstforum Wien und Musée d'Ixelles, Brüssel, 1987
  • "Helnwein is a genius with a great feeling for the closeness of love and death"
    Maximilian Schell
    Actor, director
    "Gottfried Helnwein arouses Creative Tumult", Scott Timberg, Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2005
  • "It has been described that the artist's place on the planet is to be the canary that's sent down into the coal-mine to sniff out whether the air down there is poisonous. And if the canary comes up alive we can all go there. It takes a particular canary to sniff that out, and I think Gottfried Helnwein keeps coming back up to the surface no matter how poisonous the air and that gives us a lot of belief in our own ability to do it and to reconcile things."
    Sean Penn
    Actor, Director
    Interview in 'Ninth November Night', a documentary about the art of Gottfried Helnwein, by Henning Lohner, Los Angeles, 2003
  • "What Helnwein creates, regardless the medium - watercolor, oil, photography, performance art, sculpture - is a thorny psychological excursion into our sublimated self, our obscured corners and dark humors. His explorations into war crimes, Catholicism, disfigurement and the Holocaust are both unflinching and surgical. His work is in museum collections around the world, and critics have labeled it grotesque, fearless, disturbing and veer[ing] dangerously close to offensive. 'People are surprised', he says, when they discern that he doesn't seem insane."
    Lynell George
    Los Angeles Times
    "Gottfried Helnwein - Dark Inspiration", cover story, Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2008
  • "With titles like ‘‘The Murmur of the Innocents’’ and ‘‘God of Sub-Humans,’’ these works — executed with obsessive, old-master-worthy technique — can be as bludgeoning as, say, a Rammstein riff, but you can’t take your eyes off them"
    Mark Rozzo
    New York Times
    "Problem Child", Mark Rozzo, New York Times, Culture, September 2, 2010
  • "Helnwein is the most important living painter."
    Sean Penn
    actor, director
  • "Gottfried Helnwein is the world's Finest Artist"
    Carl Barks
    Comic-artist, writer, creator of Donald Duck and Scrooge Mc Duck
    A hand written dedication by Carl Barks on a print of Scrooge Mc Duck, Oregon, 1985
  • "Helnwein ist eine Art Allegorie der Umstrittenheit."
    Heinz Sichrowsky
    News, Vienna
    "Rebell und Society Star", Heinz Sichrowsky, Alexandra Stroh, News Magazin, Wien, 30. November 1998
  • "..Wir wenden aber immer wieder den Blick ab von seinen Kindern. dabei sind sie die verstörendsten Bilder des Malers Gottfried Helnwein: von den in süssen Farben gepinselten Aquarelle der frühen 70er Jahre, die meist geschändete, brutalisierte Mädchen zeigen - bis hin zu den überlebensgrossen, fotorealistischen Installationen der letzten Jahre, in denen er einer erstarrten Erwachsenenwelt den Spiegel ihrer verschütteten Kindheit vorhält. Bei Helnwein werden Wunden zu Waffen. Von Anbeginn an sind die Bilder des in Wien geprägten, und heute in Amerika arbeitenden Malers von Protesten und Skandalen begleitet gewesen, was Helnwein nicht überrascht, doch: " Es ist nicht mein Bild, vor dem sich die Leute fürchten, sondern ihre eigenen Bilder in ihren Köpfen."
    Alice Schwarzer
    Author, founder and publisher of the German feminist journal EMMA
  • "Over the years Gottfried Helnwein has developed a unique style and today he is one of the greatest artists of the world."
    Ron Wood
    The Rolling Stones
    Ron Wood: "Meine Stones", Th. Zeidler, NEWS, Wien, 30. November 1997
  • "My favorit photographers are Nan Goldin, Anton Corbijn, Cindy Sherman. And Gottfried Helnwein. I love Gottfried Helnwein."
    Lou Reed
    musician, poet
    Interview, "Ich möchte nichts mehr sehen", Christoph Dallach, Der Spiegel, 28. Juli 1999
  • "I have a phenomenal admiration for Helnwein's work."
    Tomi Ungerer
    In a letter to Gottfried Helnwein, Tomi Ungerer wrote: 'I have a phenomenal admiration for your work.', Cork, Ireland, 2006
  • "Gottfried is a genius, and possibly my favorite living artist"
    Roger Avary
    director, writer, producer
    Avary's Domain, www.avery.com, Los Angeles, May, 20, 2002
  • "We decided to choose the photographs of Helnwein for our cover artwork. We really like his attitude towards art and the way he presented us. It turned out that a picture of a band can be something different, - real art."
    German industrial metal band
  • "This was the moment when I sensed for the first time', Helnwein has since written, '[that] you can change something with aesthetics, you can get things moving in a very subtle way, you can get even the powerful and strong to slide and totter, anything actually if you know the weak points and tap at them ever so gently by aesthetic means.' For the following three-and-a-half decades he has relentlessly pursued that goal, masterfully incorporating everything from painting to performance to photography, regularly causing art world outcry and public fury. Yet, his art is successful less for its evident tendency to provoke than for its extraordinary ability to perplex. My art is not giving answers," Helnwein has said. "It is asking questions." In fact, his work is insistently open-ended. Like Goya's Disasters of War, his art queries time and again, "How can this have happened?" At last we recognize that Helnwein asks questions not in order to solicit answers - hate has no reason - but rather in order that we might begin to pose our own."
    Jonathon Keats
    Novelist, artist, art-critic
    From the essay 'The Art of Humanity', published in "Ninth November Night', the catalogue for a documentary about Gottfried Helnwein and his Art referring to the Holocaust, Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, November 9, 2003
  • "An artist with conscience, a fearless man with a penchant for profoundly bizarre and complex, meaningful images, Gottfried Helnwein is making a grand re-entry to San Francisco. His work was exhibited here four years ago when his freaky mixed-media portrait of Mickey Mouse - "Mouse I" - was part of the SF Museum of Modern Art's "The Darker Side of Playland - Childhood Imagery." The paintings are extraordinary, grotesque, powerful, "difficult" and challenging, according to the curator of the Legion of Honor (San Francisco Fine Arts Museums) exhibit, Robert Flynn Johnson. They are all that, and more. A simple description of the works, without context, would only indicate a freak show: a photo-like painting of Hitler with two very Aryan-looking children, an actual bar of soap encased under them; a group of uniformed Nazis gazing adoringly on a contemporary Mother and Child (Helnwein explaining that the people in the photograph that was the basis for the painting were actually surrounding Hitler); images of normal children mixed with misshapen, ill, tortured youngsters. "Why would people cause so much pain to others?" Helnwein asks, and he shows the pain, unflinchingly, but not to titillate the demented or to horrify the ignorant. "The Child" (exhibition) - located in a part of the Legion next to a permanent exhibit of Renaissance Mother and Child images by Pontormo, Tintoretto, Raphael, and others - has far more to offer than politics, morality, controversy and horror. Although there is no doubt that primarily Helnwein is "the artist as provocateur," he is also an artist in the sense of creating unique and lasting images."
    Janos Gereben
    Art-critic, Oakland Post
  • "Gottfried Helnwein is a genius!"
    Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Governor of California
  • "Helnwein will most certainly attain an appropriate place within the lively history of Austrian art and scandal, which includes the works of Schiele, Gerstl, Schoenberg and others, as well as, the "Viennese Action group"
    Peter Gorsen
    Professor for Art History, Vienna
  • "An exhibition called Sensations caused a few upsets, first in London and then in New York. Central to the reaction was a large-scale portrait of a child-killer assembled from, if I remember correctly, the palm prints of children. So far, so bland. The shock element in art has been much talked about in the last five years but art that actually shocks has been thin on the ground during the same period. Step forward then, Gottfried Helnwein. By and large, if art is going to shock, it better have something shocking to say, and it's clear that Helnwein has found that."
    John Hendry
    art critic, London
    "The Shock of the Real", John Hendry, Reuters UK, International / Art, London, May 20, 2000
  • "Helnwein likes to linger at boundaries. Whoever wants to pass through is closely examined by him. Like Goya he is one of the magic customs officials of art. (Rousseau, on the other hand, always stayed on the other side of the border even though he really was a customs official by profession!) Whoever wants to enter the plane of art has to be able to understand and communicate reality. Helnwein is not only an artist but also a perfect transformer. The so called imagination should not come into play at the beginning of a world, but its nuclear power should be released only at the moment of transformation, of metamorphosis."
    Wolfgang Bauer
    poet, playwright
    Essay "Inspired by Helnwein" for the catalogue of the Installation and one man show "Apokalypse" at the Dominican Church in Krems, Museum of Lower Austria, 1999
  • "Helnwein has always said that he paints children because they symbolize humanity better than adults. This may be so, but perhaps Helnwein's images are so profoundly disturbing because of the disparity between the portrayal of children- in all their idealized purity- and the portrayal of suffering. His work is a mesmerizing commentary not only on the exploitation of children in our culture, but also on emotional vacancy and moral torpor, which too often implicate us in the pain of others. By consciously mingling his themes of purity and culpability, Helnwein has presented viewers with a disorienting yet provocative way of apprehending both history and suffering."
    Nirmala Nataraj
    art-critic, San Francisco
  • "Helnwein's preoccupation with the dark side of modern history, including its abuse of images, has never left him. He did a whole series of paintings so dark as to appear imageless. But he intended them not as mirrors of dark times but as counterthrusts to the aggressive reach of so much contemporary culture. People will respond to his concern with the power of images. We willingly subject ourselves to their power every day without really understanding it. If nothing else, his pictures, no matter how confrontational, stand still and permit us, even defy us, to understand how they work upon us."
    Kenneth Baker
    San Francisco Chronicle Art-Critic
  • "The viewer is lured into pondering whether the lone figure of a child in a muted pink dress is asleep on the ground, or has been hit by a roadside in a puddle, or on white sand in the sun? Few parents are likely to trot such a painting home to hang over the family hearth, but the artist's ability to conjure up open-ended dramatic narrative is unquestionable. ...people caught in poses and with facial expressions that leave everything to the imagination: Are they happy or sad? Asleep or dead? Singing or letting forth with primal screams? - Cleverly conceived conundrums."
    Jo-Ann Lewis
    The Washington Post
    "Conundrums", Jo-Ann Lewis, The Washington Post, August 3, 1981
  • "Helnwein's work is perfectly executed proof of the mastery of all the available means to outdo the reality in depiction. Only in this way was Helnwein able to trigger the shock that he intended, a shock with a possible healing effect. Helnwein developed a visual language depicting apocalyptic visions that can be understood all over the world. The beautiful and the ugly, the fear of the terrible and the power of its fascination, the clearly recognisable and that which cannot be interpreted but lurks outside the painting as well as outside the nursery door, and more closely intertwined in these pictures than those of any other living artist."
    Peter Zawrel
    Director, Museum of Lower Austria
  • "Gottfried Helnwein is a brave virtuoso of versatility. In his work, he forces us to confront, via his visual wit, brio, and candor, the human face of violence and angst. Helnwein's work prods us to react, yet not simply because it is "shocking". His main message in fact is: be brave. Be daring. And most importantly, be willing to confront even the darkest side of human nature - after all, it's something we cannot escape. "
    Reena Jana
    artcritic, Flash Art
  • "Look at Helnwein's painting under Visual Sociology. What was Helnwein saying? Why was he willing to offend. Why did one of my students make a giant box that when opened had a lovely smiling face inside that said "F^&* the Patriot Act"?? Isn't that a lot like what Helnwein and Kiefer and Beuys were doing? Maybe saying "wake up and look at what you're doing?"
    Jeanne Curran
    Professor of Sociology, California State University
  • "Your paintings have left a deep impact on me. To be honest - they have shocked me. I have thought about it for a long time and came finally to the conclusion, that people should be confronted with these images to be inspired to think."
    Elisabeth Gehrer
    Austrian minister for education and culture
  • "In a moving exhibition at the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Hannover, paintings of the Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein are on view. One of his paintings shows a girl with a rascally face wearing an armband for the blind, with her tongue sticking out. At first I smiled. If you keep looking at this painting, you will see that the girl has blood running down the inside of her legs. The child obviously was abused, force was used against her... yes, children are vulnerable. Childhood can be terrible, when children are at the mercy of someone. - I'm thinking of the 12 year old Judith Wischnajatskaja, who wrote her last letter in July 1942: "Dear Father! With death I bid you goodbye. We would like to live so much but we are not allowed, we will perish. I am so afraid of this death because the little children are thrown into the pit alive."
    Dr. Margot Käßmann
    Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany
    At German Protestant Church Day ("Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag"), the annual convention of the German Protestant Church, Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Bishop Dr. Margot Käßmann referes in her opening sermon to the images of suffering children in the art of Gottfried Helnwein. Hannover, May 25, 2005
  • "Helnwein's Images are shocking - may it be through drastic depiction of the opressing or opressed human being, or through the deconstruction of conventional and accommodating pictures. Is it possible that the reason for the outraged reaction lies in the beholder himself? Helnwein is an exceedingly political artist, not through big speeches but through the message of his art. That's why his work is important especially in times where artists often confine themself to shallow fun-culture. "
    Antje Vollmer
    Vice-speaker of German Parliament
  • "The theme of violence and the theme “he as victim” proceed from Beckmann’s early work from 1907 till today. Bruce Naumann, Marcel Odenbach, Jeff Wall und Gottfried Helnwein changed the artistic means radically but not the theme itself. Helnwein’s fascinating oeuvre embraces total antipodes. Helnwein is an artist of uncompromising expression: The trivial, for example the Disney-culture, alternates with visions of spiritual doom, the divine in the child contrasts with horror-images of child-abuse. But violence remains to be his basic theme, - the physical and the emotional suffering, inflicted by one human being unto another."
    Gregory Fuller
  • "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 pictorial representation of the world and in his artistic performances, serving as a metaphor for the invulnerability and invincibility deeply seated in man."
    Peter Gorsen
    Art Historian
  • ""In memory of the children of Europe who have to die of cold and hunger this Xmas", was written on the draft of a poster in the winter of 1945 by the Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka who emigrated to London. He had 5000 copies printed at his own cost and posted in underground stations. In late autumn 1988 the Austrian painter Gottfried Helnwein, who emigrated to the Rhineland, mounted a series of five meter high photo prints with children's faces along a one hundred meter long wall between the cathedral of Cologne and the Museum Ludwig. He called the work Selection (Ninth November Night). It is a work of monstrous expression and painful effect. His title recalls the anniversary of the so-called Reichskristallnacht, through which Helnwein gives the children's portraits their almost overwhelmingly harrowing effect. As we were preparing his exhibition for the Lentos Art Museum together with Gottfried Helnwein, I was researching at the same time for a different project about Kokoschka. The story of the London posters was new to me. Unintentionally and unexpectedly the two artist lives blended into one another for a brief poignant moment. With a tremendous creative effort, ability to communicate, organizational experience, implementation energy and financial resources, both artists devoted themselves on a specific occasion to an appeal: Remember!"
    Stella Rollig
    Director, Lentos Museum of Modern Art, Linz
  • "His paintings represent a fusion of historic and contemporary artistic practices, uniting the Romantic aesthetic of Caspar David Friedrich, the political radicalism of Viennese Actionists and the technical precision of the photorealists of the 1970’s. Although often based on photographs, or inspired by film stills, his paintings are built up in fine layers of traditional oil paint and represent a degree of technical accomplishment rarely seen in European academies. He uses this technical accomplishment and finesse to carry across the strong political message contained in his art."
    Peter Murray
    Director of the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork
  • "The works of Gottfried Helnwein are technically classified as hyper-realism (surpassing super-realism) and at first glance are practically indistinguishable from photographs. Though realistic in terms of technique, most of Helnwein's works are characterized by metaphorical implications. Included in all of Gottfried Helnwein's work, this basic principle demonstrates a reflection of the aesthetics of popular culture and irony, and represent Helnwein's major outlook on the world. Gottfried Helnwein is endowed with perfect pitch and distinguished sense of contemporary issues. As a painter whose art deals with issues confronting human society, Helnwein creates a new standard of measuring modernism. "
    Evgenija Nicolaevna Petrova
    Chief Curator of the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
  • "Die Provokationen des Künstlers sind subversiv und klammheimlich. Sie packen den entsetzten Betrachter eben da an, wo die antrainierten Verdrängungsmechanismen sonst so gut funktionieren. Das wird am deutlichsten bei Helnweins Kinderbildern. Zarte pastellfarbene Zeichnungen, die zum Horrortrip für den Betrachter werden. Die sanften Kindergesichter sind durch Verletzungen furchtbar entstellt. Hasenscharten, Narben, Wundmale, Klammern, Kanülen, Bandagen. Der Anblick ist kaum auszuhalten. Aber was bedeutet das schon gegen die täglich von vielen tausend Kindern erlittenen Schmerzen, Qualen und Folterungen? Ein künstlerischer Aufschrei geen die Schmerzen der Welt. Helnwein denunziert nicht die Kinder - das häufigste Missverständnis, mit dem man sich gegen seine Kunst wehrt - sondern unsere Neigung, vor dem Leiden die Augen zu verschliessen. Der Künstler entlarvt das Bedürfnis nach heiler Welt (oft nur eine Form von Abgestumpftheit) als unmoralisch, als Angst vor der Realität . Ein Moralist mit sadistischen Mitteln."
    Erika Brenken
    Deutsches Allgemeines Sonntagsblatt
  • "Helnwein's images of children prove to be his real self-portraits."
    Peter Pachnike
    Curator, Ludwig Museum Schloss Oberhausen
  • "Wir haben im Laufe der Zeit die wildesten Skandale dieses Landes penibel beschrieben, keiner dieser Berichte löst auch nur annähernd so eine Reaktion (wie Helnweins Titelbilder) aus. Es ist interessant zu registrieren, dass ein Bilder stärker provoziert als ein Text, dass Fiktion heftigere Reaktionen auslöst als ein Tatsachenbericht. Der Grund dafür dürfte darin liegen, dass die Fantasie stärker angeregt und im Unterbewusstsein Schlummerndes angesprochen wird. Hier liegt noch ein weites Betätigungsfeld für Kummunikations-theoretiker. Wenn ich heute diese Herausgeber-Briefe lese, so überfällt mich Nostalgie. Über den Talenteschuppen profil und darüber, dass wir uns, obwohl es uns selbst nicht ganz leichtgefallen ist, mit Künstlern wie Helnwein oder Manfred Deix eingelassen haben. Ihre Power und die Aufbruchsstimmung rund ums profil haben einige Grenzen in diesem Land gesprengt."
    Oscar Bronner
    Herausgeber der Österreichischen Tageszeitung Standard, Gründer des Nachrichtenmagazins Profil
  • "Gottfried Helnwein’s "American Prayer" (2000) has taken up residency in my mind. I began to discover a semiotic richness in this painting worthy of what W.J.T. Mitchell has called a "metapicture" - a "picture that [is] used to show what a picture is". Mitchell situates the concept of metapicture in "'iconology', the study of the general field of images and their relation to discourse," thereby cutting across Greenbergian self-reflexivity into an expanded context that includes popular culture as well as contemporary art. In this wider cultural field, a metapicture does more than reflect on the nature of the picture itself and calls into question "the self-understanding of the observer". I will argue that "American Prayer" derives its theoretical relevance partly from its concealed hybridity, from the interplay between technological media and painting. In this work, the substitution of one medium by another reinforces the meaning that can be created from the iconographic substitution of the child by Pinocchio, and the replacement of the deity by Donald. In the end, Donald’s sideways glance at us indicates that this picture is really about us, the observers; it questions our own place in a cultural web of illusionism spun from the abiding human desire to overcome death."
    Petra Halkes
    Concordia University Montreal
  • "...The current studies on the face rely less on effect-seeking, expressive drasticness. Rather, Gottfried Helnwein masks a possible mental turmoil or traumatization of his picture models, which might be suggested, for example, by the black, seemingly fascistoid and fetishized uniform parts, behind the posed expression of his children's faces. Like Laocoon, these "beautiful" children that seem as though carved from wax, no longer cry out. They bear something that is not named and yet is visible. In their intimacy, they communicate an unfathomable inscrutability. The viewer's irritation arises from not being able to find a clue to this mystery. The wound is to be kept open and no one should be allowed to heal it."
    Thomas Edlinger
    Art-critic, writer
  • "Im Kampf gegen Reglementierungen und Zwänge, gegen Vergessen und Resignation weist Helnwein vornehmlich durch die Darstellung des Antlitzes des gezeichneten - oft schreienden - Menschen einen Weg, der Aufschrecken und Überprüfung zur Folge haben könnte. Dieser Zielsetzung unterwirft er die verschiedensten Mittel und arbeitet mit Serienphotos ebenso wie mit der endlosen Reproduktion der Offsetdrucks, mit Aktionen wie mit an die Grenzen des Erträglichen gehenden veristischen Bildern."
    Robert Darmstädter und Ulrike von Hase-Schmundt
    Reclams Künstlerlexikon
  • "Helnwein is a ridiculously talented artist. That is basically all you need to know. Anything you could imagine art doing for you, or to you, any feeling it might instill in you or emotion it might remove from you, he captures, then cripples, reformats, and pastes into the cleft pallet of a 20-foot-tall gray-scale rendition of a deformed fetus soaking in formaldehyde. The essence of realism and ability that every art major ever clamored to grasp, he manages to expel onto canvas with apparent ease. He produces paintings, and photographs that you can't help but wish you could recreate with the same vision, depth, and intrigue. "
    Dallas Clayton
    Writer, Los Angeles
  • "The portraits of Hendrix, Joplin, and Lennon are particulary stirring because their ghostlike treatment translates as a poetic and humble tribute to major creative forces whose lives were tragically cut short. As exemplified by the paintings of Helnwein, the purpose of a contemporary portrait may extend well beyond biographical signification to stimulating reflection upon larger issues of social or political consequence"
    David s. Ruben
    Curator of 20th Century Art, Phoenix Art Museum
  • "People are much more content with watching the "real world" and reality television, than living their own lives, or watching something that comes from imagination. Imagination is a necessity, and I don't think it's sort of bad. I can dream up some images like I did with Helnwein, and they get censored, forbidden, - but I can take images which are far worse, that are on CNN and it's reality. It's bad when imagination is censored by others, but when you censor it yourself, that's the worst. That's what's happening now with the dying breed of "artists," if I can use that word. People are afraid to say and do things because of how it will affect their career."
    Marilyn Manson
    Musician, artist
  • "The point of the images is that they put it up to you as a viewer. Given that, one potential line of criticism is that they are designed solely to be provocative, like Marcus Harvey's portrait of Myra Hindley. But the abiding strength of Helnwein's work is that provocation is a means rather than an end; it is - however uncomfortable - morally grounded, if not necessarily in a way that will please all observers."
    Aidan Dunne
    art critic, The Irish Times
  • "Ich schätze seine unendliche zeichnerische Qualität, seinen enormen künstlerischen Witz. Vom malerischen Können muß man gar nicht reden, da ist er Weltklasse. Außerdem ist Helnwein ein überaus intelligenter und unruhiger Geist. Seine Übermalungsexperimente sind hochklassig: Luxusbilder, Weltkunst. Helnwein hat mich stark beeinflußt. Seine Federzeichnungen habe ich früher quasi unwillentlich nachgemacht. Er brachte mir Kühnheit und Wagemut bei. Ohne ihn gäbe es mich nicht. Er aber wäre nicht so, wie er jetzt ist, gäbe es mich nicht. Ein Leben ohne Helnwein kann ich mir nicht vorstellen, hoffentlich überlebt er mich."
    Manfred Deix
  • "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
  • "Helnweins Thema ist der malträtierte, unterdrückte Mensch, am beeindruckendsten in einer Serie von mißhandelten und verstümmelten Kinderköpfen (1969). Dieses Thema inszeniert er auch in Fotoserien und Installationen sowie Performances ("Blut für Helnwein", 1972). Nach 1985 kombiniert er großformatige Fotos mit abstrakt-gestischer Malerei ("Der Beweis", 1986). In Helnweins Kunstauffassung offenbart sich ein obsessiver Realismus, der die verdrängte, tabuisierte »Nachtseite« der menschlichen Zivilisation in packenden Metaphern veranschaulicht."
    Prestel Kuenstlerlexikon
  • "Scale is an important part of his strategy because, he wants to engage with the widest possible public. To this end, transgression is also central. Many of his images set out expressly to stop us in our tracks, confronting us with scenes of what look alarmingly like grotesque surgical experiments, of horrible torture, of children in distressing situations, of distorted and mutated flesh. It's not all Grand Guignol though. An extremely impressive work "Selection", made in 1988, consisted of a series of uniform, huge images of children's faces, stretching from Cologne's Ludwig Museum to its cathedral. The subtitle, (Ninth November Night), gave the clue to the event the work marked - the start of the Holocaust on Reichskristallnacht, November 9, 1938. In presenting people with a series of entirely neutral, if rather beautiful, pictures of innocence and implicitly pointing out that just such innocents were sorted and selected for extermination, Helnwein was resurrecting an aspect of the past that most Germans and, perhaps even more so, Austrians, have preferred to forget. It certainly annoyed someone to the extent that they came and vandalised it, symbolically cutting the throats of some of the images. Selection shares with Helnwein's more sensational work a desire to prod us into thought about our own attitudes and roles. The real horror, as his work reiterates, is indifference and complacency. "
    Aidan Dunne
    art critic, The Irish Times
  • "In his last will, the Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhard, who died in 1989, banned the production of his texts on home soil. Bernhard never hid his fury at Austria's refusal to admit its history. Helnwein, born in 1948, clearly shares Bernhard's view. He is furious about Austria's self-image as victim of the Third Reich, rather than its willing collaborator. In 1965 posters for the Freedom Party, later led by Jörg Haider, demanded: "Forget about the past! Look ahead at the future." Helnwein, then still a teenager, reacted by painting a portrait of Adolf Hitler that got him expelled from art school. His "crime" was to have reminded Austria of its best-known son."
    Julia Pascal
    New Statesman, UK
  • "Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein's powerful and haunting paintings provide a disturbing commentary on Nazism and the Holocaust, regularly provoking outraged reactions from right-wingers in his native land and in Germany. 'I was amazed how deep pictures could reach into the hearts and minds of people - and how much they would talk to me about it,' he said, 'for me, art is like a dialogue. - But my art is not giving answers, it is asking questions."
    Julia Weiner
    Jewish Chronicle, London
  • "Not even the children were spared; they, too, fell victim to the destruction. It was Gottfried Helnwein's most convincing idea to present the consequences to this period without mercy" in such an unconventional manner. He made no use of photos of heaped corpses; children's portraits force the observer to stop and consider this idea. The fury with which the neo-nazis reacted to these portraits is understandable inasmuch as it is the very same fury with which they have for years been fighting against The Diary of Anne Frank; the murder of children rouses abhorrence and conflict in every human, whether they are motivated by ideology or insanity. The urge to destroy has survived; the portraits bear witness to its rage - an attempt was made to cut them to shreds. "People, please, stop,... look at these children's faces, multiply their number by a few hundred thousand. Only then will you realise or gain an inkling of the extent of the Holocaust, of the greatest tragedy in human history! (About the installation 'Ninth November Night') "
    Simon Wiesenthal
    Holocaust survivor, Human Rights Activist
  • "I admire the work of Gottfried Helnwein a great deal. This photographic testimony encourages reflection and provokes the examination of conscience, which is necessary for every one of us where racism is concerned. The laceration of the portraits is proof of the fact that we cannot be indifferent to the warning of the "final solution". I consider myself lucky to be able to exhibit this gallery of memories in its present form in Lausanne. The childrens' faces are to remind us that innumerable victims were needed during the past sixty years to get out of "the Night and the Fog. (About the installation 'Ninth November Night')"
    Charles-Henri Favrod
    Director Musée de l'Elysée Lausanne
  • "Congratulations Gottfried - you are the greatest inspiration."
    Marilyn Manson
    musician, poet, artist
  • "Helnwein compared the "quietly theatrical" ecstatic attitude of his self-portrait with the heroic pose of the figure of the suffering figure of Sebastian and generalizes both to the stigma of the artist in the 20th century, making him a kind of saviour figure. In addition, its poetic title sets the viewer onto the right track. The visual montage of the modern artist as Man of Sorrows with Friedrich's landscape painting projects the dashed hopes of the romantic rebellion into the present, to the protest thinking of modernity, which has become introverted and masochistic, and its crossing of aesthetic boundaries. Is romanticism making a comeback? No; actually, it had never left modernity. But its rebellion is confining and introverting itself in the "body metaphysics" of contemporary artists to its own flesh and blood."
    Peter Gorsen
    Writer, Professor for Art Hhistory, Vienna
  • "Amstetten between discomposure and media-hype: A dungeon amidst the town, a father inflicting martyrdom onto his children - how we struggle to put the pieces of the incomprehensible together. The dungeon in Amstetten touches something deep inside the marrow of the Austrians, their dark side, mirrored in the poems of their authors and in the Images of Gottfried Helnwein, depicting people with forkes pusched into their eyes. Or Girls with blood running down their legs. Helnwein's paintings are nightmares, they tell of of the dungeons in our heads..."
    Holger Gertz
    Sueddeutsche Zeitung
  • "Karikatur ist nach Werner Hofmann, dem ehemaligen Direktor der Hamburger Kunsthalle, "als Darstellungstyp eine sublimierte Form der Verletzung." Francisco de Goya gehört mit seinen Caprichos, besonders seinen "Desastres de la Guerra" deshalb ebenso dazu wie Käthe Kollwitz - oder Gottfried Helnwein. Die Arbeiten von Helnwein stehen aber auch in einer Linie mit den Kupferstichen eines William Hogarth. In der Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts hat er seine "modern moral subjects", seine "modernen Sittenbilder" entworfen, die der Gesellschaft den Spiegel vorgehalten haben - und Helnwein wie Hogarth haben eine subtile Balance zwischen ästhethischer Form und erschreckendem Inhalt gefunden."
    Gisela Vetter-Liebenow
    Wilhelm Busch Museum, Hannover
  • "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: 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."
    Peter Frank
    Art-critic, writer, Senior Curator at the Riverside Art Museum
  • "Helnwein gehört mittlerweile zu den international populärsten Malern der Gegenwart. Seine künstlerischen Ursprünge liegen allerdings in seiner österreichischen Heimat: Mit dem Magischen Realismus Hausners verbindet ihn die ins Surreale gehende Überzeichnung des Bildgegenstandes, mit Hermann Nitsch und dem Wiener Aktionismus der Hang zur Inszenierung von Blut, Gewalt und Perversion."
    Meisterwerke der Kunst, Isis Verlag, Schweiz
  • "Dieser junge Künstler malt das lautlose Sterben voll poetischer, melancholischer Schönheit. Fuer mich ist er gleichsam ein Handke unter den Malern, ein exakter Beobachter, der bei seinen Mitmenschen die Innenhaut nach aussen stülpt und sie somit demaskiert."
    G. Brugner-Rosenbaum
  • "Helnweins Bilder sind nicht delikat, sondern unverfroren, rebellisch, Fremdkörper, die sich unter der Haut einnisten."
    Wolfgang Längsfeld
    Professor der Hochschule für Film München, Magazin Kunst
  • "One thing you can't quibble over is the overwhelming impact of Helnwein's imagery - ethereal hallucinogenic meditations you enter effortlessly into. Hang one of these whatever-you-wanna-call-it's in a room and it totally permanently dominantly dicates the mood. Not much art can do that, which is what makes Gottfried Helnwein great."
    Alan Bamberger
    art consultant, San Francisco
  • "Helnweins Bilder erwecken eine tiefere Angst vor sadomasochistischer Gewalt, vor Exzessen des Umgangs mit Menschen, die gequält werden, selbst quälen und dem Schrecken der Technik, der Medien oder dem Krankenhausterror ausgeliefert sind. Der Ekel, den seine superrealistischen Bilder vor allem Kranken, Abnormen, Deformierten in seiner hilflosen Auslieferung an gewaltsame Überformung auslösen, ist extremes Schockmittel im Sinne von Antonin Artauds Wirkungsästhetik. "Malen ist sich wehren", sagt Helnwein über seine Motivation. Sein Thema der Bedrohung und Gefährdung scheint den Nerv der Zeit zu treffen, der Aufschrei, den das stumme Medium verschweigt, bricht in jedem Betrachter selbst aus und schlägt die empathische Brücke über die Grenzen von Klassen, Rassen und Kulturen hinweg."
    Susanne Vill
    Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Mozarteum, Salzburg
  • "Gottfried Helnwein's view of reality has always been analytical, critical and even caustic. Not without cause his art knows only enthusiasts or opponents, but no indifference. It polarises."
    Reinhold Misselbeck
    Curator for photography and new media, Ludwig Museum , Cologne
  • "Helnwein's artistic practice lies upon the recognition of the basic differences of forms of existence of photography and painting. As one of the most consistent multimedia-artists, he utilizes the specific capabilities of each of the applied media to their ultimate limits - besides photography and painting, drawing and performance - but on the other hand mirrors them into each other to a certain extent, so that they enlighten one another and enhance the effect."
    Klaus Honnef
    Curator for Photography and new Media, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn
  • "Seine hyperrealistischen Gemälde machten ihn zu einem der bedeutendsten Künstler der Gegenwart"
    Christoph Soltmannkowski
    Schweizer Illustrierte
  • "Wenn wir von Helnwein sagen, er habe von aussen nach innen gemalt, dann heisst das,daß seine minutiöse und bohrend-insistierende Arbeitsweise, die die geschaute Wirklichkeit brutal interpretiert, eine hinter den Dingen im Verborgenen liegende Welt aufzudecken versucht. Aus seinem Krisenbewusstsein, aus seiner Skepsis, aus der Qual des Beunruhigtseins, erwachsen Helnwein grauenerregende Bilder, sie geraten zum Peitschenhieb gegen einen aufgesetzten Positivismus, als dessen Treibfeder Profitdenken und Materialismus unserer hochgezüchteten Wirtschaftsgesellschaft verantwortlich zeichnen. Aus einem intellektuellen Unbehagen gegenüber einem falsch verstandenen Fortschrittsglauben wählt der Künstler die Individualisierung, die sich dem weitgehend Unbekannten der Seele zuwendet. Helnweins Trauma einer kollektivistischen Gefährdung des Einzelmenschen lässt keine neutral wiedergebbahre Bilderwelt zu. Das gewohnte Erscheinungsbild des Menschen schlägt bei ihm um in ein Spiegelbild, das sich als Spaltbild, als eine Existenzstufe schmerzvoller Zerrissenheit des Kreatürlichen entlarvt. So erweist sich die geglaubte Wirklichkeit lediglich als Teilwahrheit."
    Hubertus Froning
    Curator, Folkwang Museum Essen
  • "Helnwein's meticulous Irish landscapes are unashamedly aesthetic: gorgeous confections of pure, delicious spectacle. The typically epic but not inhuman scale imitates the subject matter. The tonal realism will make people go "Wow, are they paintings?" - thanks to the photorealist finish which seems free of the foibles of the human hand. Helnwein works with very small brushes - highlighting and subtly magnifying here, muting colours or creating shadows there; pushing some paintings towards momentary sleights of impressionism; and others towards seamless, burnished hyperreality. The bird's eye view suggests a kind of superhuman vision which can simultaneously take in the entire view with breath-taking clarity, like some bionic eagle."
    Mic Moroney
    writer, art-critic, artist
  • "...These photo-paintings appear even more real than a photograph: they are hyper-real, super-saturated depictions of the world that surrounds us, as we would like to see it. Helnwein’s landscapes offer us the world as we see it in our mind’s eye, our memories. What is certain is that with these works Helnwein has raised the bar for artists to come with art that is groundbreaking in terms of scale, skill and vision. Painted mountains, fields and sky can never be the same again."
    Cristin Leach
    The Times
  • "Andy Warhol sieht furchtbar aus. Blaß, übernächtigt und jedenfalls nicht in Bestform. William S. Burroughs posiert pikanterweise mit einem Revolver, und Michael Jacksons Gesicht erscheint als das, was es ist: perfekte Fassade. Kaum eines der von Gottfried Helnwein aufgenommenen Schwarzweißfotos berühmter Persönlichkeiten - von Lou Reed über die beiden wunderbaren Aufnahmen des alten Charles Bukowski bis zur schon beinahe aufdringlich nett in die Kamera blickenden Leni Riefenstahl - möchte man im Ernst als schmeichelhaft bezeichnen. Gerade das aber ist es, was seine in den achtziger Jahren begonnene Porträtserie "Faces" auszeichnet: Helnweins Bilder erzählen vermutlich mehr von den Menschen, als ihnen lieb ist."
    Christoph Schütte
    Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
  • "The new wave of rock-video grotesquerie isn't new at all, actually, the Austrian painter Gottfried Helnwein, whose self-portrait adorned the cover of an album by the German band Scorpions some years back, was doing images of medical horror twenty years ago."
    Kurt Loder
    MTV, USA
  • "But what does the hyper-realism of Austrian-born, Irish-based artist Gottfried Helnwein say to us and about us in the context (of the exhibition) "Body Anxious"? His work is what puts this show on the map of bodily pain and anxiety. He has painted a hyper-realistic, oversized portrait of a little girl in a pink-and-white undershirt, her head and eyes swathed in gauze so recently wrapped that it glistens with blood. It is from Helnwein's "Los Caprichos" series, named after the famous Goya series. Art historians say Goya's "Caprichos" mark the beginning of the modern world of art because they were the first to look at, rather than avoid or symbolize, pain, fantasy, cruelty, disloyalty and any other number of grievous human traits."
    Diane Heilenman
  • "Wohl kein autoporträtatives Schaffen ist in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts derart mit einer expressiven Gesellschaftskritik, mit einer Anklage verbunden, wie das von Gottfried Helnwein. Der Künstler macht sich um einer schonungslosen Aussage willen zum schreienden, zum stellvertretend leidenden Objekt seiner Bilder: „Ich will mit meinen Bildern und Aktionen die Menschen aus ihrer Eingefrorenheit lösen, wenn auch nur eine Sekunde lang, will sie verunsichern und zu spontanen Reaktionen hinreißen. Verunsichern, aber nicht destruktiv. Die logische Denkfähigkeit soll zugunsten totaler Selbstöffnung kurz trocken gelegt werden“, stellte der österreichische Maler, Grafiker und Aktionskünstler Gottfried Helnwein zur Intention seines Werkes fest. Helnweins Gemälde und Zeichnungen, die in der Tradition von Odilon Redon und Alfred Kubin stehen, zeigen mit hoher Suggestionskraft Szenarien von verletzten Menschen. Zunächst nur Kinder, dann auch Erwachsene in teils grotesken Posen, teils laut schreiend, teils in introvertierter Stille. Aber selbst wenn in ihnen nicht bildlich dargestellt geschrieen wird, so ist in den meisten Bildern ein stummer Aufschrei impliziert, der sich auf das ganze Werk überträgt"
    Andreas F. Beitin
    Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität zu Münster
  • "The Centre International d'Art Contemporain de Montreal chose a powerful show of black-and-white photos by the Viennese-born artist Gottfried Helnwein. Helnwein's work is everything that Annie Leibovitz's, shown last spring at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is not. While both shoot celebrities - Helnwein's subjects include Keith Richards, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, William S.Burroughs, and an extremly wasted Andy Warhol - Helnwein's work is concentrated on the Psychological rather than on the gimmicky and the theatrical."
    Ann Dunkan
    The Gazette, Montreal
  • "Gottfried Helnwein's wondrous staging of "Der Rosenkavalier" is eccentric and anachronistic — yet utterly faithful to its spirit. The thing you should know about this "Rosenkavalier" is that it is terrific. Richard Strauss' opera sounds great and looks sensational. It is excellently sung, sumptuously conducted by Kent Nagano and, thanks to Gottfried Helnwein, wondrously strange. Helnwein — the Austrian artist (painter, photographer, performance artist, filmmaker) who has a studio in downtown L.A. — is known for everything from Marilyn Manson videos to Holocaust installations. Helnwein's vision of "Rosenkavalier" is monochromatic and a riot of color. It is oddly traditional yet seriously odd. It is updated but couldn't be more 18th century. And none of those opposites contradicts. "
    Mark Swed
    Los Angeles Times
  • "What dominates, however, in a manner I've seldom seen is Helnwein's use of color -- the monochromatic blue of Act 1 even extends to skin color. Herr von Faninal's house is bathed in a rich golden sheen, from the orange glow of Ochs' silly wig to the platinum of the lovely Sophie's almost-there dress. The final act, in a cheap restaurant, is mainly a glaring red, again from Ochs' wig to his skin and the costumes of the huge band of players. The walls of the restaurant are, incidentally, lined with Helnwein's own works, mainly huge photo-realistic portraits of contemporary women. The 200 costumes Helnwein designed for the piece deserve a whole review for themselves this is inventiveness gone wild, a genius concept, and a huge addition to the production. There might be purists in disagreement here, but this would seem to be a "Rosenkavalier" for the ages."
    Madeleine Shaner
    The Hollywood Reporter
  • "The Los Angeles Opera's much-anticipated new production of Strauss's "Rosenkavalier" opened on Sunday night and you can bet that the high-concept and boldly stylized sets and costumes by the designer and visual artist Gottfried Helnwein are going to provoke the strongest reactions. Restraint was not a hallmark of the outlandishly captivating production. In a detailed program note, Helnwein writes that the era of Maria Theresa was a time when everything was theater, at least for the upper class, and that over-the-top fashion styles often included masks and white-face. His designs combine spartan sets with wildly extravagant costumes ranging in style from the surreal to the ridiculous. Act I is bathed in shades of blue. In their stiffly modern blue suits and blue-faced makeup, the Marschallin's notaries look like the members of Blue Man Group. In Act II, the mansion of Herr von Faninal, a wealthy commoner with aristocratic pretensions, glows with garish golden yellows. Faninal's servants could be creatures from "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," no doubt an intentional evocation: the production begins with projected scenes from Robert Wiene's 1926 silent film adaptation of "Der Rosenkavalier," and Wiene also directed "Caligari." - In any event, the cast seemed empowered by the production."
    Anthony Tommasini
    The New York Times
  • "Helnwein's work is a complex dialectics of corporeality and ideality, accessibility and distance, fragility and invulnerability. In plastic form it is high optical sensitivity (portraits are drawn, yet their photographic basis remains perfectly clear), the forced magic of the fixed stare (the stare of the camera lens and tracking device - no wonder Susan Sontag identified tender homicide in the freeze-frame), heightened physical sensitivity, and coldly estranged form, behind which lie the universal phenomena of love and hate, presence and non-existence. ("There is a certain state of confusion in sensuality, like drowning. It's the nausea you feel when you see a dead body", writes George Bataille)."
    Alexander Borovsky
    Curator for Contemporary Art at the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
  • "Many artists use photographs as references to create their paintings – and this is something that has already existed in the 19th century. Lehnbach painted the famous portraits of his contemporaries after photographs. Gerhard Richter and Gottfried Helnwein have given these photographic materials an additional accent – they have transformed them into paintings - not copied them."
    Peter Ludwig
    German Art Collector, Founder of many Museums and Foundations for the Arts
  • "Helnwein ist vor allem ein Fotokünstler. Er verstärkt das fotografische Abbild in dramatischen Ausdrücken. Es stimmt, bei ihm nehmen Häßlichkeit und Gewalt eine zentrale Rolle ein, aber nicht um ihrer selbst willen, sondern mit Gründen. Ich achte seine Kunst."
    Friedensreich Hundertwasser
  • "Gottfried Helnwein isn't just an artist. He is an inspiration, a voice, and his masterpieces will capture your eyes and touch your soul."
    arts music fashion magazine
  • "Will you paint me with bandages?"
    Mick Jagger
    Musician, London
  • "Pluhhars und Hellers, Helnweins und Holleins, Nennings und Bernhards. Sie alle rühren die Werbetrommel, und je depremierter und todessehnsüchtiger, je morbider und selbstzerfleischender sie ihr Lied auf ihre Stadt singen, desto grösser scheint die Anziehungskraft."
    Anna Marohn
    Zeitmagazin, Hamburg
  • "Den berühmtesten Theaterplakatskandal der alten Bundesrepublik löste einst "Die Vereinigung Deutschsprachiger Bürgerinitiativen zum Schutz der Menschenwürde in Deutschland, Frankreich, Holland, Italien, Luxemburg, Österreich und Schweiz" aus. Dieses sprachliche Menschenrechtsverbrechen erstattete 1988 Strafanzeige bei der Staatsanwaltschaft Hamburg gegen ein Plakat, das Gottfried Helnwein für Peter Zadeks Inszenierung "Lulu" im Deutschen Schauspielhaus entworfen hatte. Es zeigte einen kleinwüchsigen Mann, der einer Frau in den entblößten Schritt blickt. Die Debatte darüber, ob das "Pornografie" sei, beschäftige die Feuilletons lange, denn Zadek stand im Zenit seines Ruhms, und Hamburg war noch die Pressemetropole schlechthin."
    Matthias Heine
    Die Welt
  • "Helnwein ist ein Mysterium, zweifellos ein Genie, dem Peter Hajek mit seinen 45 ZDF-Minuten ein gelungenes Portrait geschneidert hat, mit Handlungsspots, die aus Bildern erwachsen, chaotisch-heilen Familienszenen a la Helnwein, - die gelungene Collage über einen "Anti" mit weicher Seele, dem man die Hochachtung vor seiner Kunst und um Verständnis bemühte Verwunderung ob seiner Sicht der Welt nicht wird verwehren können. "
    Alexander Schmitz
    Filmkritiker, Die Welt
  • "Der 1948 geborene Wiener wird in den USA wie in Japan als virtuoser Graphiker zur Kenntnis genommen, der mit Bleistift und Feder, Buntstift und Aquarellpinsel eine Hinterwelt gespenstischer Überwirklichkeit, der Banalität des Entsetzlichen, des Wahnsinnigen, einen neuen Surrealismus ausspielt. Dieser Surrealismus hat nur mit einsamen und ehrlichen Manifesten des alten Surrealismus zu tun. Er ist mit Goya, Kafka, Edgar Allan Poe, mit den härtesten Äußerungen expressionistischer Graphik und Literatur enger verwandt. "
    Tiroler Tageszeitung
  • "Ich schätze Helnwein sehr, weil er kein Epigone ist. Auf jeder größeren Kunstmesse finden Sie zahllose Nachahmer. Helnwein aber hat einen neuen, großartigen Stil geprägt."
    Hans Dichand
    Kunstsammler, Gründer der grössten Österreichischen Tageszeitung
  • "Die Befreiung aus den Fesseln der Vergangenheit, der Rückzug in die Stille und Besinnlichkeit hat bei Helnwein einen Arbeitsrausch hoher schöpferischer Güte ausgelöst. Sensibler und leiser, aber um so intensiver und kraftvoll formuliert er sein Thema vom verletzten und verwundeten Menschen, von seinen Leiden, seiner Sprachlosigkeit und von seiner Einsamkeit. "
    Dorothea Eimert
    Direktorin des Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren
  • "Gottfried Helnwein gehört zu den bedeutendsten Kunstschaffenden der Gegenwart, auch wenn seine kritische Malerei viele schockiert. Helnwein ist ein Provokateur, der schonungslos längst vernarbt geglaubte Wunden unserer Zeitgeschichte offenlegt. Er ist jedoch auch ein Mahner angesichts der Leiden der Welt durch Bevormundung und Unterdrückung. Helnwein zeigt wie nur wenige Künstler in schonungsloser Offenheit und Direktheit den Menschen als Opfer in seiner Qual -- ausgeliefert einer Umwelt voller Bedrohungen. Damit fügt er sich ein in die Reihen so bekannter Maler wie Pieter Breughel, Egon Schiele oder Francis Bacon, die er letzlich in bezug auf ungeschminkte, überzeichnete Darstellungsformen noch weit übertrifft."
    Franz E. Schilke
    Arzt, Kunsthistoriker, Verleger
  • "Das Düsseldorfer Schumannfest wagt einen Neubeginn. Gottfried Helnwein bebildert mit seinen Fantasien das Oratorium "Paradies und Peri" Der Tänzer und Choreograf Gregor Seyffert und der österreichischen Rundum-Künstler Gottfried Helnwein fanden in dem mehr als 150 Jahre alten Stück einen Ausgangspunkt ihrer Ästhetik: Seyffert als Tänzer des Androgynen. Und noch deutlicher Gottfried Helnwein, der seine Blut- und Binden-Phantasmen auf der Bühne und auf breitformatigen Videoeinspielungen auslebt - und sich in Schumanns exaltiert-nazarenischem Opus vermutlich ganz wie zu Hause in seiner katholischen Kindheit fühlt. "
    Andreas Fasel
    Welt am Sonntag
  • "Für das 8.Internationale Schumann-Fest in Düsseldorf brachte man ein kongeniales Team zusammen, um eine komplette szenische Umsetzung des Oratoriums "Das Paradies und die Peri"in der altehrwürdigen Tonhalle zu realisieren. Gregor Seyffert – mit Preisen geradezu überschüttete Tanzikone – hat zusammen mit Gottfried Helnwein – international geachteter Künstler und Bühnenbildner – ein im wesentlichen tänzerisches, hochintelligentes Konzept entworfen, welches alle Mittel moderner, multimedialer Bühnengestaltung beinhaltet; dem Besucher gehen förmlich die Augen über. Vor lauter medialer Aktivität könnte man fast die traumhaft schöne Musik und den Gesang vergessen. Frenetischer, nicht enden-wollender Beifall, eines begeisterten Düsseldorfer Publikums, für einen Abend, den keiner so schnell vergessen wird. Lebendigstes Musiktheater, welches der sich zur Zeit im Tiefschlaf befindenden Deutschen Oper am Rhein nicht nur konkurrenzlos den Ruhm abgräbt, sondern zeigt, daß Düsseldorf durchaus Weltklasse bieten kann. Warum nicht öfter ?"
    Peter Bilsing
    Music critic
  • "Flimm gewann für Bühne und Kostüme Gottfried Helnwein, der angeblich notorisch Drastik und Provokation sucht, zunächst aber ein ingeniöser Bildmacher ist. ein Maler, Grafiker und Fotograf. Das verbindet ihn mit William Hogarth, dem englischen Kupferstecher, dessen Bilderzyklen Strawinsky zur Oper inspirierten. Doch 250 Jahre später setzt Helnwein nicht bei Hogarth und seiner realistisch genauen Darstellung der Londoner Casinos, Lusthöllen und Irrenhäuser an. Helnwein arrangiert eine magische Zeitlosigkeit durch präzise Rekostruktion konkreter Stile und zugleich fantasiegeborener Kreationen. Selten erlebte man die plastische Wirkungskraft von Kostümen so intensiv wie in Helnweins schiefem, nach rechts sich neigendem Kubusraum, in den zur Linken drei Türen eingelassen sind und dessen hellweisse Flächen immer wieder Bildprojektionen dienen, Kostüme und Bilder sind von ausgesuchtem Antipsychologismus, von entwaffnend stereotyper Symbolik, so wie Audens und Kallmans Text, wie Strawinskys Musik. "
    Götz Thieme
    Musikkritiker, Stuttgarter Zeitung
    Götz Thieme
  • "Die Hamburger Staatsoper zeigt einen Klassiker der Moderne: Jürgen Flimm inszeniert "The Rake's Progress", Ingo Metzmacher dirigiert, und Gottfried Helnwein schuf das außergewöhnliche Bühnenbild. Der Maler, Fotograf, Bildhauer und Bühnenbildner Gottfried Helnwein gestaltet Bühne, Kostüme und Masken - nach Jörg Immendorff ist er der zweite Maler, der sich an die Strawinsky Oper wagt. Im Gegensatz zu dem Düsseldorfer Neuen Wilden geht Helnwein allerdings mit dem fotografischen Auge eines Kameramannes und mit großem Feingefühl als Kostüm- und Maskenerfinder zu Werke. "Was Gottfried Helnwein da gemacht hat, ist gewaltig," sagt der amerikanische Bassbariton David Pittsinger, ein erfahrener Strawinsky-Interpret, der in der Inszenierung den Teufel Nick Shadow singen wird. "Die Kostüme hat er als Maler entworfen, die Farben entsprechen den Klangfarben der Musik und denen der Figuren im Libretto," schwärmt der Sänger, dessen Lehrer Richard Cross noch selbst mit Strawinsky gearbeitet hatte. "
    Katja Engler
    Musikkritikerin, Welt am Sonntag
  • "In der Inszenierung von "Macbeth" gelingt es Kresnik und Helnwein uns mit einer grausigen Mord-Ballade zu fesseln, die mit höhnischem Gelächter vor unseren Augen vorbeirast - wobei der schon dem Tod geweihte neue Herrscher statt der Krone eine zwar goldene, aber noch Narren-Kappe wie eine Tiara trägt. Sieger, so die Botschaft, gibt es im tödlich närrischen Kampf um die Macht nicht. Sieger in Heidelberg sind, in einer glanzvoll wüsten Inszenierung: Gottfried Helnwein, Johann Kresnik und das mitreißend auftrumpfende Ensemble von siebzehn Tänzerinnen und Tänzern."
    Rolf Michaelis
    Die Zeit
  • "Power is given to Helnwein's confrontations on canvas by virtue of him being an extremely skilled painter. His photo realism is immaculate and highly effective. Even under close scrutiny, the subtle shades and invisible brushwork makes it hard to distinguish the painting from a photograph. This hyper-realism is impressive not because "it looks like a photograph" for that would cancel out the purpose of painting. It is impressive because this controlled application of paint is cool enough to create an air of photo documentation without being sterile."
    Joanna Hayman-Bolt
    artcritic, London
  • "Ein guter Maler."
    Thomas Brasch
    Schriftsteller, Dramatiker, Drehbuchautor, Regisseur
  • "Wir sind Gottfried Helnwein zu grossem Dank verpflichtet, dass er die erste bedeutende Ausstellung von Carl Barks' Kunstwerken und den damit verbundenen Katalog ermöglicht hat. Gottfried Helnwein, selbst ein anerkannter Künstler, hat der Kunstwelt mit diesem Projekt einen grossen Dienst erwiesen, indem er über 300 Arbeiten des Künstlers für dieses wirklich bedeutsame Ereignis zusammengestellt hat."
    Roy Disney
    Nephew of Walt Disney
  • "Looking at Gottfried Helnwein's portraits, we once again experience the shock of the new, of an unprecedented view of the person opposite. I have observed many people confronted with these portraits for the first time and again and again they would show surprise, intensity of experience and fascination. Helnwein's portraits can be seen as of the same substance as Cindy Sherman's, she seeing hers as a visual discourse with her times through the example of her own being, or Joel Peter Witkin's, who traces the injuries a person has experienced. In his self-portraits, bandagings and woundings Gottfried Helnwein pursues similar themes and in his Faces, too, he does not seek the surface but encounters with the individual. In this series of works we meet people we have seen untold times in photographs, yet we could be meeting them now for the first time or, at least, feel we have never seen them so close at hand. "
    Reinhold Misselbeck
    Curator for photography and new media, Museum Ludwig, Cologne
  • "Die suggestive Faszination seiner Bilder resultiert aus dem Zusammenprall von detailversessener Ausführung, von nur scheinbar photorealistischem Strich mit dem Arrangement von Abgründigem, das sich hinter Körperhaltungen und häufiger noch hinter der Mimik des Gesichts verbirgt. Wer Helnweins zuweilen surrealistische Kompositionen für sadistisch hält, sitzt dem ewigen und eigentlich längst langweilenden Irrtum auf, dass der Künstler sich mit dem Dargestellten identifiziere, der verwechselt Denunziation von Grausamkeit mit dieser Grausamkeit selbst. "
    Thomas Rothschild
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