Jerry Gogosian (AKA Hilde Lynn Helphenstein)

Jerry Gogosian (AKA Hilde Lynn Helphenstein)

Meme Artist

Jerry Gogosian (AKA Hilde Lynn Helphenstein)
By June 30, 2021 8:00 AM

“Can art fix the world?” asks Hilde Lynn Helphenstein in a recent interview with Observer. Helphenstein is the meme maker, artist, and consultant behind the powerhouse Instagram account, Jerry Gogosian, a riff on the name of mega-dealer Larry Gagosian (another Power 50 member). At the time, we interviewed Helphenstein for her influence—the same reason she makes this list—and her dedication to calling out the art world’s bullshit. 

What is this bullshit? Often, Helphenstein focuses her ire on the outrageous behavior of an industry that caters to the obscenely rich. A small sample from Instagram: 

On mythologies used to entice collector spending: A photograph of President Obama talking to actor and collector Leonardo DiCaprio. The caption reads, “Explaining to a highly suspicious mega-collector that my artwork is activated by them exorbitantly overpaying for it and that my financial reward pales in comparison to the lifelong cultural nourishment they will attain from this experience.” 

On the inflated auction market: A picture of Kristin Dunst sulking as Marie Antoinette, with the caption, “The entire canon of 20th-century art watching as paintings created in 2020/21 sell in auction for 20x their estimate.” 

With cutting memes like that, you’d think Helphenstein might be more cynical than she is about the power of art. “I see artistic thinking as a valuable tool for us to save the planet and social society moving forward,” she told Observer. “We need to engage our brains at full capacity to think in new territories and reinvent parts of the world which are clearly broken. It’s time for artists to be brave, loud, and forceful about the alternative paths we should be considering as a species before it is too late.”

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