Adam Helms

Cat. Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, and Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam

Text (English) by William Smith and an interview (English) between Bob Nickas and Adam Helms
200 p with 280 coloured illustrations
300 x 240 mm, hardcover

ISBN 978-3-86442-034-4

(out of print)

War Games?

When questioned in an interview with Bob Nikas in January of last year about his references, his resources, Adam Helms (born 1974), who studied under Mel Bochner, mentioned a variety of sources, such as portraits from the mercenary magazine »Soldier of Fortune«, John Heartfield’s collages, the opening credits of Paramount films with their minimally divergent views of a peak that have formed the basis of the Paramount logo over the years, Gerhard Richter’s »48 Portraits« for the 1972 Venice Biennale which now hangs in the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and enshrines forty-eight black and white portraits of eminent scientists and cultural personalities dating back to the Enlightenment, or the album covers of the beautifully-named noise label from Michigan, »Gods of Tundra«. Preferring a graphic medium, pencil as well as charcoal, Adam Helms draws upon these sources observationally and works on portrait series, landscapes or poster murals on historical themes. What interests him about these sources in particular is the way in which individuals want to see themselves – or indeed their subject matter – depicted, indeed, how the »unnameable«, which typology, seizes upon these attempts at self-representation. This provides the emotional introduction for Adam Helms; he fixes the inherent pathos of the sources in his own work, duly penetrating them and thus teasing out the underlying obsessions. Ultimately, as he points out, contemporary American art cannot operate without propaganda, but it doesn’t want to own up to the status quo of American culture – the »spectacle of war« – in its quotations and allusions. It is all the more interesting for him therefore to point out the space where light and shadow meet, be it as primordial soup or as a front-line position. This comprehensive volume presents Adam Helms’ works for the first time in their undiminished topicality in a series and format devised by the artist himself.