Gottfried Helnwein is one of the internationally most imortant Austrian artists. In his work he subjects themes such as pain, injury and violence. Thereby his work frequently includes controversial and taboo topics from recent history. The image of the injured child is still a main subject of his work. In the 70ies his hyper-realistic images of injured and bandaged children made Helnwein popular. Even motifs of American Pop Culture, like Disney characters, are developing threatening forms in Helnwein’s work. In his self-portraits Helnwein depicts himself as a tortured and defeated man. The confrontation with national socialism is another central theme of his work.
From 1965 Gottfried Helnwein studied at the "Höhere Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt"/Higher School for Graphics in Vienna together with Manfred Deix and Josef Bramer. 1969 he began to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where his teacher was Rudold Hausner, one of the most important representatives of “Phantastischer Realismus”/Phantastic Realism. Hausner’s great appreciation of technical brilliance influenced Helnwein’s work very much.
Helnwein uses diverse techniques and stylistic means. Since the 1980s photography is one of his most important media, often in combination with performances. In the 1990s Helnwein starts to devote himself - in addition to drawing, watercolour, acrylic and oil - to painting, digital photography, videos and large scale installations in public space, in which he often expresses social or political issues.
On the occasion of Gottfried Helnwein’s 65th birthday the Graphische Sammlung Albertina Wien/Graphic Collection Albertina Vienna showed an extensive retrospective. Helnwein lives and works in Ireland and Los Angeles.