Aniline dye and graphite on paper

Four parts, each: 88.9 x 86.4 cm | 35 x 34 1/8 in


Adam Helms is primarily known for exploring the visual motifs underlying images of subcultures, symbols of violence and historical archetypes. Through the assembling, archiving and appropriating of mass-mediated and internet-sourced photographic material, Helms has investigated notions of the performed identities of opposition groups, notions of the heroic versus the anti-heroic and aspects of tropes surrounding masculine identity.

Both the impulses behind Helms’ artistic practice and the sensations his work evokes, can be related to the ‘Uncanny’ and the ‘Sublime’, two concepts linking psychology to art. The Freudian notion of the Uncanny describes the discomforting feeling when something is simultaneously familiar and foreign. The Sublime here points to the conflicting emotions of fascination and fear, feeling both attracted and appalled, while the viewer is at a safe distance from the depicted subject.

Helms mines imagery from mass media and journalism to repurpose and challenge established visual tropes. As an artist-meets-anthropologist, he collects a range of source material from film stills, comic books, magazines, and the internet to inform the concerns of his work. Whether through paintings and drawings on paper, prints, or light boxes, Helms reveals how images can be reproduced and recontextualized to take on different narrative interpretations and symbolic qualities as art objects.

Adam Helms (1974 Tucson, US) lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Hauntology (not really now not any more) at GRIMM, Amsterdam (NL); Uncanny Valley at Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York (US); Weight of Culture at Artpace, San Antonio (US) and Pathos Formula at Almine Rech, Brussels (BE). Institutional group shows include: Second Nature: Contemporary Landscapes from the MFAH Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (US); Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (US) and Skin Fruit, The Dakis Joannou Collection, curated by Jeff Koons at the New Museum in New York (US). Helms received the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2010. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (US), the Whitney Museum in New York (US), the Guggenheim Museum in New York (US), and The Yale Art Gallery in New Haven (US).

Curriculum Vitae

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Heel Gezellig

Group Exhibition organised by Matthew Day Jackson


Adam Helms

Artist: Adam Helms Year: 2013 Publisher: Snoeck Verlagsgesellschaft mbH Author: Bob Nickas, William S. Smith Design: Sebastiaan Brandsen, Hajo van de Kuilen Hardcover: 200 pages Size: 30.5 x 25 cm ISBN: 9783864420313