PHILOSOPHY: Disney and the wounded child

Years ago I started collecting old Snoecks‘ ( just because I love the articles and it’s nice to see the old adds. When I was going through the Snoecks of 1986, my birth year, I came across an article about Gottfried Helnwein… I’ve been a fan ever since.

The first and last enduring lesson Gottfried Helnwein learned in art school came about the day he refused to sketch yet another classic nude, and instead took a razor to his fingers and drew a portrait of Adolph Hitler in his own blood. (Gottfried Helnwein at modernisme By Jonathon Keats Artweek, Volume 33, Issue 10).
Helnwein grew up in a claustrophobic, post-holocaust society which had not been truly de-nazified. This unease with, and yet admiration of German-language culture continues to influence Helnwein’s work. He show’s homage to Casper David Friederich, Wagner and Nietzsche.

Gottfried’s work evolves around the human condition and is dominated by the image of the ‘wounded child’. His art is very post modern in the sense that, although he uses traditional pictorial conventions, it doesn’t portray beauty, it doesn’t relax… it upsets, it confronts. His work is beautiful and discusting at the same time. His themes are also very post-modern: anxiety, trauma, corruption, alienation, objectification (holocaust), existential tragedy, analyses of the individual and the self.

Besides the image of the wounded child Gottfried often uses Disney figures.
“My childhood was a horror. Born right after the war, I lived in a world of deep depression and unlimited boredom . . . I never saw anyone laughing and I never heard anybody sing. I always felt I had landed in limbo. A two-dimensional world without colours. My real life began when I got my first Mickey Mouse comic book from the Americans – when I opened a world full of three dimensions and wonders . . .”
The Mickey Mouse that stars in his work however is far from colourful. Painted in tones of black and white, with an evil grimace, this image suggests there is a disturbingly other side of Mickey… that’s yet to show it’s full face…



*pictures from