5 novembre 2003
Ninth November Night
A Documentary about the Art of Gottfried Helnwein
Sean Penn
…when someone is willing to take on the sadness, the irony, the ugliness and the beauty in the kind of way that Helnwein does.
Sean Penn talks about the Art of Gottfried Helnwein
"Well, the world is a haunted house, and Helnwein at times is our tour guide through it. I think in anything that is really relevant and emotional art, there is some kind of a mirror that people experience. I don't think that you can recognize a feeling from something that you look at unless it's part of yourself, and so when someone is willing to take on the sadness, the irony, the ugliness and the beauty in the kind of way that Gottfried Helnwein does. Not all of Gottfried's work is on a canvas. A lot of it is the way he's approached life. And it doesn't take someone knowing him to know that. You take one look at the paintings and you say "this guy has been around." You can't sit in a closet - and create this. This level of work is earned." Sean Penn
Excerpts from statements by Sean Penn for the documentary "Ninth November Night"
- A Film about Gottfried Helnwein and his Installation for the 50. Anniversary of "Kristallnacht"1938 at Ludwig Museum in Cologne and other references to the Holocaust in his Work.
The Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, 2003
"Well, the world is a haunted house, and Helnwein at times is our tour guide through it.
I think in anything that is really relevant and emotional art, there is some kind of a mirror that people experience. I don't think that you can recognize a feeling from something that you look at unless it's part of yourself, and so when someone is willing to take on the sadness, the irony, the ugliness and the beauty in the kind of way that Gottfried Helnwein does.
I remember when Ramsey Clark said that the poets were the unacknowledged legislatures. And certainly they are. Great art has an undeniable truth. It lets each individual adapt their own experience to that truth but it doesn't let you walk away from it. Somehow, with every great work of art, there is a step in the evolution of man, and I'm not embarrassed to consider it that way. Especially not on the level that Helnwein operates on.
Not all of Gottfried's work is on a canvas.
A lot of it is the way he's approached life. And it doesn't take someone knowing him to know that. You take one look at the paintings and you say "this guy has been around." You can't sit in a closet - and create this. This level of work is earned.
- I've made it a conscious effort to not analyze anything I love too much. And I love this art, and for me part of the reason is a professional reason - for me as somebody who aspires to creativity myself. When you find someone in the arts, whether it's in your medium or in another medium, that raises the bar for you, that reinvigorates your own pursuit of affecting people and out of a sharing what you count on as some kind of a common chord in us. Whether it's through imagery, words or sounds.
As an artist my strongest reaction to Helnwein's work is that it challenges me to be better at what I do. There are very few people that achieve utter excellence in what they do, - and I think that Gottfried Helnwein is certainly one of those people.
I guess if I have a common interest creatively and, like I said before, aspire to the level of performance that these works have. And I think that you have a responsibility to absorb things, to expose yourself to things, you know.
- It has been described that the artist's place on the planet is to be the canary that's sent down into the coal-mine to sniff out whether the air down there is poisonous. And if the canary comes up alive we can all go there. It takes a particular canary to sniff that out, and I think Gottfried keeps coming back up to the surface no matter how poisonous the air and that gives us a lot of belief in our own ability to do it and to reconcile things."
Sean Penn
Los Angeles, 2003
Sean Penn at the Helnwein show at the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums
2004
NINTH NOVEMBER NIGHT.
- A documentary about the Art of Gottfried Helnwein.
Director: Henning Lohner
Co-Director & Editor: Max Carlson
Commentators: Sean Penn, Maximilian Schell, Jason Lee
Introductory text by Simon Wiesenthal
Director of Photography: Darren Rydstrom
Additional Camera: Jason Lee, Bernd Reinhardt
Producer: Gisela Guttman
Helmut Lohner talkes with Gottfried Helnwein




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