Artist Gottfried Helnwein captures the horrors of war and the scars it leaves

Sotheby’s is an important springboard to showcase Irish art like The Disasters of War says Des O’Sullivan.

Artist Gottfried Helnwein captures the horrors of war and the scars it leaves

AN innocent child caught up in war is the peculiarly appropriate focus of a work by the artist Gottfried Helnwein entitled The Disasters of War which comes up at Sotheby’s Irish art sale in London on September 13.

The painting is not about Syria, it is about humankind.

The work of Helnwein, who lives and works at Gurteen Castle in Co. Tipperary, is informed by his upbringing in post-war Austria, where the shadows of World War II cast a horrifying pall.

This innocent child in this photo realist work bears the scars of adulthood’s violence and corruptibility.

‘Mending Nets, Aran’ by Gerard Dillon at Sotheby’s Irish sale in London on September 13. (£100,000-150,000)
‘Mending Nets, Aran’ by Gerard Dillon at Sotheby’s Irish sale in London on September 13. (£100,000-150,000)

Helnwein, whose works are in major public collections, moved to Ireland in 1997.

His work was exhibited in Kilkenny (2001), at the Crawford in Cork (2004) and in Waterford (2008).

An international platform like Sotheby’s is an important springboard for Irish art.

Over the years and through booms and busts, the auction house has found new buyers from countries around the world for our artists.

Modern and contemporary Irish art is to take centre stage again in London on September 13.

Highlights from the auction, which features important work by stalwarts like Lavery, Yeats and O’Conor as well as more contemporary artists like Elizabeth Magill, Melita Denaro, Eilis O’Connell, John Doherty and Rita Duffy, will be on view at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin next week.

‘Mary Borden and her family at Bisham Abbey’ by Sir John Lavery at Sotheby’s Irish art sale in London on September 13 (£150,000-250,000).
‘Mary Borden and her family at Bisham Abbey’ by Sir John Lavery at Sotheby’s Irish art sale in London on September 13 (£150,000-250,000).

The roll call of artists in the sale includes Sir William Orpen, Paul Henry, Gerard Dillon, Mary Swanzy, Colin Middleton, F.E. MacWilliam, Rowan Gillespie and Gottfried Helnwein.

Mary Borden and her family at Bisham Abbey, 1925 by Sir John Lavery is one of a number of portrait interiors representing writers.

Mary, a nurse during the First World War, published poetry describing her harrowing experiences and developed a career as a novelist. The painting was part of a highly successful portrait interiors’ show by Lavery that same year.

‘Lazy Lady’ by Rowan Gillespie at Sotheby’s Irish sale in London on September 13 (£12,000-18,000).
‘Lazy Lady’ by Rowan Gillespie at Sotheby’s Irish sale in London on September 13 (£12,000-18,000).

Joseph Duveen imported the show for a North American tour starting at his galleries on 5th Avenue, New York. This resulted in the beginning of a new chapter in Lavery’s career.

Viewing at the RHA is from 10am-5 pm next Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from 10am-3 pm on Sunday week.

More in this section

Click and connect: 100 places in Munster to shop locally this Christmas

#HomeAtHeart

We want to help you to connect with the people you love, but may not see, this Christmas.  Every Saturday, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we will publish your messages in print and online, starting November 28.

Say it here, in the Irish Examiner.