Helnwein is a painter and conceptual artist, concerned primarily with psychological and sociological anxiety, historical issues, and political topics. As a result of this, his work is often considered provocative and controversial. His early work consists mainly of hyper-realistic watercolors, depicting wounded children, as well as performances, often with children, in public spaces. Most of his new work is oil and acrylic on canvas of physically and emotionally wounded children have been seen as metaphors for larger global issues. Helnwein studied at the University of Visual Art in Vienna, and his works are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Denver Art Museum, among many others. His work has recently been cited in an article by the SF Chronicle and the NY Arts Magazine for his participation on a show at 21C Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.