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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Robert Heinecken, 1931–2006

Jerry N. Uelsmann, Bob, 1973

Robert Heinecken died last Friday after suffering for 12 years from Alzheimer's disease. He was 74.

"In the 1960s, Heinecken began to develop an approach to photographs that was distinctive in the history of the medium. He sometimes described himself as a para-photographer, because his work stood 'beside' or 'beyond' traditional ideas associated with photography. Essentially, the artist decided that in the wake of the media explosion that had come to characterize contemporary life, enough photographs already existed. Rather than make more, he would manipulate existing ones. His art became an attempt to clarify, reveal and sometimes confound the subliminal social, political and artistic codes they contain. Heinecken was among the first to consider himself an artist who used photographs, not a photographer who made them. Today that approach is common. But in the late 1960s, when Heinecken published an influential portfolio of 25 prints titled 'Are You Rea,' the radical nature of the experiment was largely unprecedented." (Christopher Knight, The Los Angeles Times)


Illustrations: Above left: Robert Heinecken, Shiva Manifesting as a Single Mother, 1989; above right: Robert Heinecken, Connie Chung, 1989


Blogger Unknown said...

I first saw Robert Heinecken's work at the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California around 1990. the museum showed a work called "Child Guidance Toys," where the artist took catalog photographs of a young boy with a Daisy Air Rifle and another of JFK in a rocking chair and, sure enough, by putting the two distinct images together - the excited young boy aiming the weapon at JFK - made a powerful statement. Mr. Heinecken created and expanded possibilities for me as a young photographer. Today, in part thanks to Robert Heinecken's influence, my work is shown on, an online gallery of photographic art. Mr. Heinecken's loss saddened me a great deal and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

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