Large installation in the city center of Cologne, between the Ludwig Museum and the Cologne Cathedral: "Neunter November Nacht" (Ninth November Night)
A four-meter-high, hundred-meter-long picture lane in which Helnwein recalls the "Reichskristallnacht", the beginning of the Holocaust, on 9 November 1938. He confronts the passersby with larger-than-life children's faces lined up in a seemingly endless row, as if for concentration camp selection. Just days into the exhibit, these portraits were vandalized by unknown persons, symbolically cutting the throats of the depicted children's faces.
Since then large scale installations in public spaces became an important part of his work
Selektion, Neunter November Nacht, (Ninth November Night), 1988
100m-long (300 feet) Installation First installation: at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne Scanachrome on Vinyl each picture 370 x 250 cm, 146 x 98 inches
Selektion - Neunter November Nacht (Ninth November Night)
Installation, Kulturbrauerei, Berlin, 1996
Ninth November Night
Installation, 1988, 400 x 6000 cm / 157 x 2362'', between Ludwig Museum and Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, each panel 370 x 250 cm, 146 x 98"
09. November 1988
Ludwig Museum, Cologne
INSTALLATION "NINTH OF NOVEMBER NIGHT" BETWEEN THE LUDWIG MUSEUM AND THE DOME OF COLOGNE
Lentos Museum of Modern Art Linz Stella Rollig Director 2006
"In memory of the children of Europe who have to die of cold and hunger this Xmas", was written on the draft of a poster in the winter of 1945 by the Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka who emigrated to London. He had 5000 copies printed at his own cost and posted in underground stations.
In late autumn 1988 the Austrian painter Gottfried Helnwein, who emigrated to the Rhineland, mounted a series of five meter high photo prints with children's faces along a one hundred meter long wall between the cathedral of Cologne and the Museum Ludwig. He called the work Selection (Ninth November Night). It is a work of monstrous expression and painful effect. His title recalls the anniversary of the so-called Reichskristallnacht, through which Helnwein gives the children's portraits their almost overwhelmingly harrowing effect.
As we were preparing his exhibition for the Lentos Art Museum together with Gottfried Helnwein, I was researching at the same time for a different project about Kokoschka. The story of the London posters was new to me. Unintentionally and unexpectedly the two artist lives blended into one another for a brief poignant moment. With a tremendous creative effort, ability to communicate, organizational experience, implementation energy and financial resources, both artists devoted themselves on a specific occasion to an appeal: Remember!