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GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN. Reality and Fiction

Category: Exhibition 7. November 2023

Few figures in contemporary art are surrounded by as much controversy as Gottfried Helnwein. Born in Vienna in 1948, the artist has captivated and at the same time unsettled audiences around the world with his delicate choice of themes and sometimes borderline aesthetics.

To mark the artist's 75th birthday, the Albertina is now dedicating a comprehensive exhibition to his work. The exhibition "Reality and Fiction", curated by Elsy Lahner, covers the last three decades and sheds light on the development of Helnwein's unmistakable style with his hyper-realistic depictions, which are always based on photographic references.

At the center of Helnwein's work is the figure of the vulnerable and defenseless child, embodying the psychological and social anxieties that haunt our collective consciousness. Children, who are often mutilated or injured or bear the burden of violence, are a recurring motif in his art.

One of Helnwein's central techniques is the way in which he juxtaposes seemingly disparate elements in his work. He takes motifs from contrasting worlds, such as manga characters and war photography, Donald Duck and Adolf Hitler, the Virgin Mary and Nazi henchmen, and combines them in a way that creates a unique blend of the grotesque and the horrific. The result evokes unease and aims to draw attention to the areas that society prefers to keep hidden.
Over the years, Helnwein's canvases have become larger and larger, sometimes occupying public spaces such as - even currently - the Ringturm in Vienna.

He sees himself as an outsider in the art world and has avoided the big galleries and art fairs. Instead, he has attracted attention through his friendships with celebrities such as Sean Penn, Marilyn Manson and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Helnwein has lived in Ireland and the USA for decades. (written by Cem Angeli)

The exhibition will be on display at the Albertina from October 25 to February 11, 2024, daily from 10 am to 6 pm, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 9 pm.

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