Former governor chose internationally recognized and acclaimed artist Gottfried Helnwein to paint his official portrait.
Sacramento, Sept. 8, 2014 – Today, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. joined former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the unveiling of the official Schwarzenegger gubernatorial portrait at a ceremony in the Rotunda of the State Capitol Building in Sacramento.
“My seven years as Governor were some of the most fulfilling of my life, and I am proud of all that we accomplished during that time – including passing groundbreaking environmental legislation, investing in California infrastructure and making landmark political reforms. It’s truly a privilege to have my portrait hang on the walls alongside California’s great leaders,” said former Governor Schwarzenegger. “Today’s celebration is also for all the people who served California with me during my time in office without whom none of these accomplishments would have been possible. I am grateful not only to my staff, but also to my family and to the people of California who entrusted me with the important responsibility of leading our great state.”
In attendance at the unveiling were former staff members of the Schwarzenegger Administration, as well as other current and former California leaders, including USC professor and former California State Librarian Kevin Starr.
“As the former California State Librarian, I am proud to be part of today’s unveiling and celebration,” said Starr. “The gubernatorial portraits that line these walls give us a glimpse into the past, and a sense of who these men really were. Today, we honor California’s 38th governor and his contributions to this great state.”
Schwarzenegger chose internationally recognized and acclaimed artist Gottfried Helnwein to paint his official portrait. Helnwein is considered one of the greatest realist painters of our time and is well known for his portrait work, including pieces depicting such celebrities as Andy Warhol, John F. Kennedy and Muhammad Ali.
Born in post-war Austria, Helnwein drew inspiration from the devastation he witnessed as a child. His work has focused on addressing complex social issues to provoke thought and discussion among his audience.
His art has been featured in some of the world’s most notable museums and galleries, including the Legion of Honor, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Legion of Honor San Francisco, the L.A. County Museum, the State Russian Museum St. Petersburg, the Albertina Museum Vienna, the Galerie Rudolfinum in Prague and, more locally, the Crocker Art Museum.
Helnwein’s work was also on display in former Governor Schwarzenegger’s office at the California State Capitol. Visitors to his office may remember a large painting of Death Valley, which was prominently featured in the Governor’s Council Room.
"Arnold is one of the most remarkable men of our times. He is larger than life, he is a myth, and he has already lived several lives that became legends. But I also know him as a great lover and patron of the arts. Arnold was friends with Andy Warhol from early on and he is an ardent Art collector,” said Helnwein. “He often visited me at my studio in downtown Los Angeles where we had long and inspiring discussions about art. When he became Governor of California he filled the Capitol with a new spirit, a new energy, and I was excited and honored when he asked me to paint his official portrait. It was quite a challenge, and I enjoyed every moment of it."
Portraits of former California governors have been on display in the State Capitol since 1879. Governor Schwarzenegger’s portrait will be hung on third floor of the capitol next to the portrait of Governor Gray Davis.