War and violence are the backdrops of Helnwein’s oeuvre to date, but when he departs from blood and guts—or anything resembling documentary footage—it is most often for hauntingly blurred portraits or eerily quiet images of children. In the watercolor Beautiful Victim 1, 1974, a young girl in a thin pink dress lies on the ground in a nondescript interior, her eyes completely covered by a thick wrapping of gauze. Here and in a number of photographs of his performances with children (including his own), Helnwein deploys the young girl as a symbol of vulnerability and tarnished innocence. An untitled painting from 1988 makes his social commentary clear: Hitler, his face half-concealed by the dark shadow from his military cap, holds the hands of two smiling yet reticent girls, looking like any good politician angling for a photo op. Having grown up in the shadow of Nazi Germany, Helnwein appears to be projecting himself onto the young girls who populate his oeuvre, obsessively working through the personal and collective experience of stolen childhood.