It is important to realize that satire, too, had its place in Helnwein’s early work, especially during the 1970s and 80s, tending as it did toward the dark, or at least the absurdist. This was particularly appropriate to the political realities of the Cold War. Satire increasingly provoked where earnestness failed. That a particular portrayal of the self as an “other” being might subvert established ideas of the role of realism in art was a concept Helnwein embraced. He purposefully made himself unrecognizable, even monstrous, dousing himself in black, blue, or red paint, binding his eyes with bent forks, stretching his mouth with metal implements, and gagging himself with bandages. This was the freedom the artist alone could stake. The notion is romantic in nature, but nonetheless pertinent. Only a radical creativity might stir any hint of a new reaction to realism.