Beautiful Victims: Childhood and the Holocaust in the Work of Gottfried Helnwein

Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

School of Art and Art History, College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

M. E. Warlick


Helnwein, Criticism and interpretation, Holocaust, Jewish Holocaust 1939-1945, Holocaust in art, Influence, Children in art, Painting, Modern


"For the past three decades, contemporary artist Gottfried Helnwein has shocked viewers with his Holocaust-related paintings, drawings and installations. Born in Austria in 1948, Helnwein witnessed the immediate aftermath of World War II in Europe from a child’s perspective. Consequently, the horrifying images summoned from Helnwein’s imagination are inspired by the memories and repercussions of this tragedy. His work addresses his parents’ unwillingness to speak of the atrocities as well as the exploitation of the Holocaust in contemporary popular media. His work questions not only how such a tragedy could have taken place, but also how contemporary perception of this event has been affected by total media saturation and the passage of time. To shock viewers, Helnwein portrays strikingly realistic images of distressed, wounded and morally ambiguous children in works that have been regarded as controversial and outspoken"

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

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