Gottfried Helnwein Info

Press and Media

Catalogue, Ninth of November Night – November 30, 1987

Installation between Museum Ludwig and the Dome of Cologne


With the Installation "Ninth of November Night" Gottfried Helnwein wanted ti remind us of the "Reichskristallnacht", November 9th to 10th, 1938.
He has consciously foregone using documentary archive material.
He is chiefly interested in the attitude behind the catastrophe, the roots of the holocaust - the delusion that one is able to measure the worthiness or unworthiness of humans by the form of the nose and ears, by the hair and colour of the eyes.

The perverse "healing precept of the chosen Nordic race", which vouched for the pure and the good, and described a whole gamut of lives not worth living, and which were considered to be the source of all evils such as crime, immorality and even illness.
The cleansed of inferior genotypes.

For a long time Gottfried Helnwein has been occupied in his work with the theme of fascism and violence. In his installation "Ninth November Night", he has made use of a rather subtle, and perhaps because of this, a particularly moving language.
He confronts the passers-by with larger-than-life childrens' faces in a seemingly endless row; children as if made to "line up to be sorted" in a concentration camp.

Placed, so to speak, opposite these faces, which force the observer into frontal eye contact, is the enlargement of a schematic illustration from the "Text Book of the Sub-Human" - "shapes of buttocks; A. of the lower B. of the higher race."