In the context of this year’s Los Angeles Art Show theme, “Old Masters to Cutting-Edge Contemporary Including Photography,” the masters include Picasso and Bierstadt, while the cutting edge is represented by the likes of Judith Schaechter and Gottfried Helnwein.
Helnwein’s 20-by-60 foot outdoor installation “Modern Sleep 2003”, as well as photographs from his collaboration with Marilyn Manson, are included in the show, which opens with this evening’s gala and is open to the general public Friday through Sunday at Santa Monica Airport’s Barker Hangar.
“Modern Sleep 2003” (digital print) is the latest in a series dating back to the 1980s and reflects Helnwein’s use of children in questioning the human condition. It includes two images of a girl. In one, her skin is pale white, and she is dressed in black. In the other, she is black, dressed in white. In both images, her expression is death-like.
“They have open eyes, so modern sleep doesn’t mean they are just sleeping,” says Helnwein. “It might mean something else.”
Helnwein, who moved to Los Angeles two years ago, says his recent work reflects newfound freedom. “This is the biggest melting pot I know. Any ethnic group, anything is present here in total chaos, but it works…I feel a freedom I’ve never felt before…I don’t feel controlled.”
He says he enjoys doing public installations because it reaches a wider audience. “I like to show my art in public spaces to reach people who have no idea about fine art, who have no intent of going to galleries or museums. I want to confront people who are unprepared.”