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Helnwein's early work consists mainly of hyper-realistic watercolors, depicting wounded children, as well as performances – often with children – in public spaces. Helnwein is concerned primarily with psychological and sociological anxiety, historical issues and political topics. As a result of this, his work is often considered provocative and controversial.
Gottfried Helnwein (born 8 October 1948); Austrian-Irish visual artist. He has worked as a painter, draftsman, photographer, muralist, sculptor, installation and performance artist, using a wide variety of techniques and media.
His work is concerned primarily with psychological and sociological anxiety, historical issues and political topics. His subject matter is the human condition. The metaphor for his art is dominated by the image of the child, particularly the wounded child, scarred physically and emotionally from within. His works often reference taboo and controversial issues from recent history, especially the Nazi rule and the horror of the Holocaust. As a result, his work is often considered provocative and controversial.
Helnwein studied at the University of Visual Art in Vienna (Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Wien). He lives and works in Ireland and Los Angeles.