Peter Helck
American Artist    1893-1988
Home Page
Main Gallery
Automotive Art Gallery
Advertising and Illlustration Gallery
Drawings and Sketches Gallery

Peter Helck was born in New York City in 1893. He studied art at the Art Students League in Manhattan and later studied in England with muralist Frank Brangwyn.

From the 1920's through the 1940's Helck was very successful as a magazine illustrator and advertising artist. His commissions frequently were of industrial scenes, or featured cars, trucks and locomotives. During that period he also painted pictures of famous automobile races -- having been an avid fan of the sport since childhood. In 1944 he did a series of paintings for Esquire magazine in which he recreated the excitement of automobile races from the first decades of the 20th century. To his great satisfaction, these pictures proved very popular, and in the following decades he developed a large market for paintings of old cars. It is for this genre that he is mostly remembered today.

But there was another side to his artisitc creativity. Over the years he had produced a number of works that he referred to as his "fine art" works. They were often cityscapes or landscapes. The compositions were very dynamic, dominated by bold diagonals, but the colors tended to be muted, even somber at times. The human figure, when present, was usually subordinate to the overall composition (even though they were usually painted with considerable grace and individuality). The uncompromising realism of his art was of course out of step with the artistic movements of the mid 1900's, so these works, which he considered his best, have remained largely unknown to this day.

It is in part to make these works better known, that I have created this website of my Grandfather's work. The Main Gallery is the heart of the site, containing many of the pictures that were his own favorites. But I am not neglecting his automotive or advertising work either, it's just too good and too popular not to include it.

This website is a colaborative effort. Jerry Helck, my father, has been very active in gathering images for it and we have already seen a lot of interest in the site. In the near future I will be adding a guest book page -- but in the meantime, please feel free to email me with your comments or suggestions. I would like to add a page where people who knew my Grandfather can post their recollections of him, so please get in touch!

Contact Webmaster: Timothy Helck