Sophie von Hellermann

  • Sophie von Hellermann is best known for her large-scale, romantic, pastel-washed canvases, which are often installed to suggest complex narrative threads. Applying pure pigment on to unprimed canvas, Hellermann’s use of broad-brushed washes imbue her pictures with a sense of weightlessness so that objects and figures are spread with ease and economy across the picture plane. Von Hellermann’s paintings draw upon current affairs as often and as fluidly as they borrow from the imagery of classical mythology and literature to create expansive imaginary places. She says, “what interests me is how the mind works and how dream images come together from things you’ve seen, read, and experienced both years ago and yesterday.” Translating and combining both found and mental images into paint with an almost automatist spontaneity, she explores the invented space of the unconscious rather than the perspectival space of direct observation. With her swift mark-making her paintings seem refreshingly unburdened by the weight of the past and Hellerman is able to move freely between demonstrations of great facility and a total rejection of it.
  • After a Fashion – A Play wih Fire, 2015, Vilma Gold, London, Installation View

  • After a Fashion – A Play wih Fire, 2015, Vilma Gold, London, Installation View

  • After a Fashion – A Play wih Fire, 2015, Vilma Gold, London, Installation View

  • 2013, Firstsite, Colchester, Essex, Installation View

  • 2013, Firstsite, Colchester, Essex, Installation View

  • 2013, Firstsite, Colchester, Essex, Installation View

  • Crying For The Sunset, 2011, Vilma Gold, London, Installtion View

  • Crying For The Sunset, 2011, Vilma Gold, London, Installtion View

  • Crying For The Sunset, 2011, Vilma Gold, London, Installtion View

  • 2011, Edition of the Festival Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse, Installation View

  • 2011, Edition of the Festival Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse, Installation View

  • Sophie von Hellermann & Josh Smith, 2010, Museum Dhondt- Dhaenens (MDD), Deurle, Belgium, Installation View

  • Sophie von Hellermann & Josh Smith, 2010, Museum Dhondt- Dhaenens (MDD), Deurle, Belgium, Installation view

  • The Lucky Hand, 2011, Greene Naftali, New York, Installation view

  • The Lucky Hand, 2011, Greene Naftali, New York

  • Lives and works in London

    1975Born in Munich

    1993 – 1999Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf

    1999 – 2001Royal College of Art, London

    Solo Exhibitions (selected)

    2015After a Fashion - A Play with Fire, Vilma Gold, London

    2013Elephant in the room, Firstsite, Colchester, Essex

    2011Crying For The Sunset, Vilma Gold, London
    The Lucky Hand, Greene Naftali, New York

    2010Who Shall Survive? Almine Rech, Brussels
    Sophie von Hellermann & Josh Smith, MDD (Museum Dhondt- Dhaenens), Deurle, Belgium

    2009Sophie von Hellermann & Josh Smith, Le Consortium, Dijon
    Maximus, Marc Foxx, Los Angeles

    2008Accidental Portraits, Vilma Gold, London

    2007Greene Naftali, New York

    2006Judgment Day, Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (cat.)
    Judgment Day, Chisenhale Gallery, London (cat.)
    No Man Good Island, (with Brian Griffiths), Vilma Gold Project Space, Berlin Patrick De Brock Gallery, Knokke, Belgium

    2005Neuveaux Commanditeurs, Nancy
    Goddess in the Doorway, Greene Naftali, New York

    2004On The Ground, Vilma Gold, London
    Ghislaine Hussenot Gallery, Paris
    Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles
    Vacio 9, Madrid
    Jablonka Galerie Linn Luhn, Cologne
    Hot Fusion, Marc Foxx, Los Angeles

    2003Jablonka Linn Luhn Jablonka, Cologne
    Kunstverein Konstanz, Konstanz

    2001Vusering Hites, Vilma Gold, London
    Saatchi Gallery Presents Sophie von Hellermann, Saatchi Gallery, London (cat.) Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles

    Group Exhibitions (selected)

    2016PART #3, Warhus Rittershaus, Cologne, Germany

    2015Die Moderne der Frauen in Deutschland, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany
    Empathy and Abstraction. Modernist Women in Germany, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany
    Katrin Plavčak and friends: History of Painting Revisited, curated by Katrin Plavčak, Function Room, London
    Drawing Biennial 2015, Drawing Room, London
    Present Conditional, Mier, California

    2014I Cheer a Dead Man's Sweetheart, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, UK
    Nuite Americaine, Office Baroque, Brussels

    2013Out of the House, Cranford Collection, Fundacion Banco Santander, Madrid Folk Devil, David Zwirner, New York

    2012In the disappearing mist, the gift whispers, Focal Point Gallery, Southend
    Howling at the Moon: The Artist and the Night Sky from Old Masters to Today, Dickinson Fine Art, New York

    20112011 Edition of the Festival Printemps de Septembre, curated by Anne Pontegnie, Le Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse
    Painting Show, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, curated by Sophie von Hellermann & Gavi Wade Watercolour, Tate Britain, London
    Outrageous Fortune: Artists Remake the Tarot, Focal Point Gallery, Southend

    2010The Library of Babel/In and Out of Place, Zabludowicz Collection/ 176, London TAG: From 3 to 45. New London Painting, Brown, London

    2008100 Years, 100 Artists, 100 Works of Art, Art on the Underground, London
    The Alliance, Do-Art gallery, Beijing and Seoul curated by Seungduk Kim and Franck Gautherot Base-Progetti per l’Arte, Florence, curated by Franz West
    Painting Now and Forever Part II, Greene Naftali and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

    2007Flaca, London

    2006Out of Line: Drawings from the Collection of Sherry and Joel Mallin, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, New York
    Heroines, Arnold & Marie Schwartz Gallery Met, Metropolitan Opera House, New York Marc Foxx, Los Angeles
    Olympia, hobbypopMUSEUM, Public, Paris

    2005Sophie von Hellermann & Josh Smith: Collaborations, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
    The Hardest Thing to Draw is a Kiss, The Gallery at Wimbledon School of Art, Wimbledon (cat.) Clarke & McDevitt Present, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin (cat.)
    Linn Luhn Jablonka, Cologne
    POST MoDERN, Greene Naftali, New York

    2004The Drawing Project, Vamiali’s, Athens Marcc Fox, Los Angeles
    Mothers, Oh! Art, London
    Britannia Works, British Council, Athens (cat.)

    2003Art and Mountains, The Alpine Club, London Hydrophobia, Henry Peacock Gallery, London

    2002Dear Painter, paint me..., Pompidou Centre, Paris (cat.), curated by Alison Gingeras Lombard Freid, New York
    Artagents Gallery Hamburg
    Ghislaine Hussenot Gallery, Paris
    Mediated Cooperation, collaboration with Johannes Maier
    OBERWELTE, Stuttgart, Germany
    We all Love..., The Mission, London
    Electric Show, The Great Eastern Hotel, London

    2000Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

    1999Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam
    Weltausstellung 99/robolove, Koelnerstrasse, Dusseldorf
    Troublespot.Painting, MUHKA Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, NICC, Antwerp, curated by Luc Tymans and Narcisse Tordoir
    von Hellermann, Gerhard Richter, Chris Ofili, Paul Morrison, Michael Raedecker, Luc Tymans, Michaelangelo Pistoletto, Marlene Dumas, Kippenberger, Laurence Weiner,Felix Gonzalez-torres, Elsworth Kelly, Robert Ryman, Vincent Geyskens, Ugo Rondinone, John Currin, Robert Gober and Andy Warhol

    Selected Bibliography


    2016Parkes, Olivia, Deceptively Whimsy Paintings with a Political Stroke, Broadly,, Online,
    August 2016,

    2013Elephant in the Room, First Site, exhibition catalogue (ISBN: 978-00948252-37-2)
    Cranford Collection, Out of the House, TF Editores, exhibition catalogue

    2011Smith, Alison, Watercolour, Tate Publishing, exhibition cat., 2011

    2010MDd 9: Museum Dhont-Dhaenens, Belgium, pp.60-67

    2009Sophie von Hellermann, Forest Road: Drawings Circa 2006 - 2008, 38th Street Publishers
    Sophie von Hellerman, Private Getaway Life, Painting a better Present, Pinturas de la Coleccion
    Diezy7, Barcelona (cat), 2009

    2008Sophie Von Hellermann, Frieze Year Book, 2008

    2007Judgement Day, Koenig Books, London

    2005I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, Exhibition Catalogue, Marella Arte Contemparnea

    2004Britannia Works, Exhibition Catalogue, British Council

    2002Dear Painter, paint me... Painting the Figure since late Picabia, Exhibition Catalogue,
    Pompidou Centre, Paris, curated by Alison Gingeras

    2001Saatchi Gallery Presents Sophie von Hellermann, Exhibition Catalogue, The Saatchi Gallery
    New Contmeporaires, Exhibition Catalogue, Touring Exhibition
    Images That Are Nagging Me, Exhibition Catalogue, The Saatchi Gallery

    1999Trouble Spot-Painting Red, Exhibition Catalogue, MOCA Antwerpen


    2013Valacchi, Maria Chiara, Sophie von Hellermann / Alessandro Pessoli, Flash Art, Issue 291, Aug/Sept 2013
    Moss Richard, Sophie von Hellermann vies for indoor mural world record at Colchester Firstsite,, 28 May 2013

    2011Smith, Alison, Watercolour, Tate Publishing, exhibition cat, 2011
    Landscapes? Think Again, The Financial Times, Saturday 12 February

    2009‘Guide to Painting: Artist Sophie von Hellermann on How She Paints, The Observer, Online, Sunday 20th September 2009,

    2008Lack, Jessica, Sophie von Hellermann, The Guardian Guide, May 17
    Ward, Ossian, In the Studio Sophie von Hellermann, Time Out, May 22
    Sophie Von Hellermann, Focus London, 2008

    2007Sophie Von Hellermann, Avantegarde Magazine, May 2007

    2006Herbert, Martin, Sophie von Hellermann, Frieze, September
    Vogel, Carol, Where Bel Canto Meets Paintbrush, New York Times, August 15
    R.C., Tag der Abrechnung, Kunst 21, April
    von Naso, Ruediger, Sophies Schoene Schrille Welt, Madame, March
    Janzen, Irina, Judgement Day: Mythen und Motive zum Thema Moral, Aachener Zeitung, March 17 Frantzen, Sahar Maria, Das Juengste Gericht in der Passstrasse,
    Aachener Nachrichten, March 17
    Van Naso, Rudiger, Sophies Schone Schrille Welt, Kunst, Madame, 2006

    2005Hudson, Suzanne, Sophie von Hellermann, ArtForum International. September 2005, Pg.305-6 Kazanjian, Dodie, Bright Ideas, Vogue, Issue April 2005, Pg. 224
    Davis, Nicole, A New Lease On Painting,, February 9
    Ho, Christopher, POST MoDERN, Modern Painters, March
    Johnson, Ken, Sophie von Hellermann, The New York Times, June 10
    Rosenberg, Karen, Show and Tell: Sophie von Hellermann, New York Magazine, May 23
    Hudson, Suzanne, Sophie von Hellermann, Artforum, April 2005, pg. 305 - 306

    2004Sophie von Hellermann in conversation with Andreas Leventis, Miser & Now, Issue 03, Pg.88
    Lafuente, Pablo, Sophie von Hellermann, Flash Art, July-September Pg.74
    Hubbard, Sue, Sophie von Hellermann at Vilma Gold, The Independent, 27th January 2004, Pg.55 Benedictus, Leo, Here Today Gone Tomorrow, The Guardian Guide, issue 8th October – October 15th 2004, Pg. 1 of special pull-out
    Lack, Jessica, Picks of the Week:Sophie von Hellermann, The Guradian G2,19th January2004,Pg.8 Lack, Jessica, Sophie von Hellermann, The Guardian Guide, issue 17th January –
    January 23rd 2004, Pg. 37
    Sanchez, Sofia, Wish You Were Here, (article illustrated by Sophie von Hellermann), Interview,
    4th January 2004

    2003Falconer, Morgan, Hydrophobia, What’s On, issue 3rd December 2003, Pg.28
    Brooks, Adam, Picabia: The Paradigm, Art in America, issue March 2003
    Bishop, Claire, Katharina’s mice and men, The Evening Standard, issue 31st August 2001 Meister, Helga, Gold – aus Staub und Wasser, Westdeutsche Zeitung, issue 15th November

    2003Hirsch, Thomas, Aus der Erinnerung, Biograph Dusseldorf, issue August 2003 Breit, Dorothea, Lady, Anatomisch Schlecth, Kolner Statd-Anzeiger, 18th July 2003 Christofori, Ralph, Leiber Maler..., Kunst-Bulletin, issue April 2003
    Koegel, Alice, Sophie von Hellermann, Stadt Revue Koln, issue July 2003
    Gardner, Belinda Grace, Fragile Momente..., Kunstzeitung, issue No. 79 March 2003

    2002Focus Painting Part One, Contemporary Painting Today Edited by Charles Gute, Samuele Menin
    and Michele Robecchi, Flash Art, October.
    Bush, Kate, Cher Peintre, Lieber Maler, Dear Painter, Art Forum, October, Pg.14
    Tuymans, Luc, Enquête sur l’image peinte (Dear Painter), Art Press, July-August
    Dear Painter, Modern Painters, issue Autumn
    Wetzel, Johannes, Dear Painter, Financial Times Germany, 7th August.2002
    Frehner, Matthias, Phrasen und Paraphrasen (Dear Painter), Neue Zurcher Zeintung, 31st July Hackworth, Nick, Insider art from the Germans, Evening Standard, issue 6th June 2002 Galleries Museums & Artists, Art in America, issue August 2002
    Bush, Kate, Preview Summer 2002, Artforum International, issue May 2002
    Sophie von Hellermann, Le Figaro, issue June 2002
    Buck, Louisa, Louisa Buck’s London Diary, The Arts Newspaper, issue March 2002
    Sophie von Hellermann, Hot Tickets, issue January 2002

    2001Preston, William, What’s Nagging Sophie?, Art Review, September Maloney, Martin, Maloney’s Magnificent Seven, Art Review, April
    Sumpter, Helen, Sophie Von Hellermann, Evening Standard, Hot Tickets
    Searle, Adrian, Heat Of the Moment, The Guardian, 10th July 2001
    Hubbard, Sue, The Critics: Visual art Pick Of the Galleries – Sophie von Hellermann, The Independent on Sunday, issue 21st October 2001
    Knofel, Ulrike, Jung, blond, bose, Der Speigel, issue 10th December 2001

    2000Grabner, Michelle, Trouble Spot Painting, Frieze, issue February 2000

    Museum Collections

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art
    Glenbo Museum in Calgary Alberta