Gottfried Helnwein

Year of birth, place
1948, Vienna, Austria
Role at the ZKM
in the collection
Gottfried Helnwein was born in Vienna in 1948. From 1965 to 1969 he studied at the Höhere Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, Vienna. He subsequently (1969-73) studied Painting at the Viennese Akademie der Bildenden Künste. He now lives in Burgbrohl, near Bonn.

The self-portraits with bandages and surgical instruments that made Helnwein's name were first produced in 1970. Helnwein also made his début as a performance artist at this time. Especially around the mid-1980s, he worked simultaneously with a variety of techniques in his paintings and his prints. An abstract, gestural and monochrome style of painting was to be found alongside the photorealism of his portraits, or watercolours and drawings alongside photographs, some of the latter extensively over-painted and otherwise re-worked. Helnwein also incorporated texts relating to politics, the mass media and popular culture into his images. His preferred subjects were images of children, portraits, and figures often seen in a bleak urban setting. Since the 1970s Helnwein has been interested in the processes of mass reproduction. He has re-worked paintings for use as posters or the covers of illustrated magazines, and has enlarged them into huge canvases for display in public spaces.  

Individual exhibitions (selection)
1970 Nachtgalerie im Atrium, Vienna
1979 Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
1983 Stadtmuseum, Munich
1985 »Helnwein, Arbeiten von 1970-1985«, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
1986 Mittelrhein-Museum und Haus Metternich, Koblenz, subsequently at Galerie Würthle, Vienna, Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren
1987 Musée d'Art Moderne, Strasbourg, subsequently at Museum Villa Stuck, Munich
1988 »Neunter November Nacht«, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, subsequently at Musée de L'Elysée, Lausanne
1989 »Arbeiten auf Papier«, Museum Folkwang, Essen, subsequently at Kunstverein Ludwigsburg, Kunsthalle Bremen
1992 Pfalzgalerie, Kaiserslautern, subsequently at Kunstmuseum Thun; »Faces«, Stadmuseum, Munich
1996 Staatliches Russisches Museum, Ludwig Museum im Russischen Museum, Saint Petersburg; »Madonna«, Modernism, San Francisco; »Helnwein Faces, Malerei und Fotografie«, Galerie am Fischmarkt, Erfurt
1997 »Soldiers and Children«, Modernism, San Francisco; Staatliches Russisches Museum, Saint Petersburg; Aaltonen Museum of Art, Turku, Finnland
Group exhibitions (selection)
1979 »Der Staat als Kunstkäufer, die unbekannte Sammlung«, MAK - Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna
1983 »Köpfe und Gesichter«, Kunsthalle Darmstadt
1984 »Orwell und die Gegenwart«, Museum moderner Kunst, Vienna
1987 »Krieg und Frieden«, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, subsequently at Stadtmuseum, Munich
1992 »4. Internationale Biennale der Papierkunst«, Leopold Hoesch Museum, Düren
1994 »Das Jahrzehnt der Malerei-Sammlung Schömer«, Kunstverein Augsburg
1996 »Versuche zu trauern - Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Ludwig von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart«, Städtische Galerie, Ludwig Institut Schloss Oberhausen, subsequently at Haus Ludwig für Kunstausstellungen, Saarlouis

[David Richardt, 1997]