I have recently become fascinated with the ingenious, satyrical prints of Robert Heinecken (1932 – 2006). Considered one of America’s most influential contemporary photographers, he is best well known for his usage of appropriated imagery and experimental darkroom photo processes. In response to consumerism propaganda, that bombards us relentlessly every day, Heinecken combined found imagery through different processes, such as contact printing, to create a unified image that was extremely witty, ironic, as well as disturbing. He draws attention to our culture’s fallacies, idolizations, and perplexing infatuations. His works represents the epitome of consumerism and though Heinecken’s works are captivating and beautiful; darker, insidious undertones emerge. In, Related to Periodical #5, 2/3 the image of a Vietnamese soldier proudly displaying two severed heads is repeated across a two page makeup advertisement in a magazine spread, which states, “That beautiful new face of yours…free.” The pairing of these two images is jarring and confrontational; additional text reading “This is the way love is in 1969,” is an ominous reminder of American social and world issues in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Heinecken, a forerunner of artists such as Barbara Kruger and Richard Prince who utilized appropriated imagery in the 1980’s, has become an extremely influential, pivotal artist. His eye for imagery and arrangement, as well as a keen sensitivity to bland advertisement language allowed him to meld images and text together; exposing popular media’s subconscious suggestions in a cunning, yet seamless way.
Recto/Verso #10, Cibachrome photogram with velum text insert, 1988
Daytime Color TV Fantasy (18B), 3M Color-In-Color dye sublimation print, 1974
Periodical #8, Offset lithography on found magazine pages, collated, side-stapled and taped-in, repurposed magazine cover, 1972
Recto/Verso #8, Cibachrome photogram with velum text insert, 1988
Recto/Verso #6, Cibachrome photogram with velum text insert, 1988
Recto/Verso #9, Cibachrome photogram with velum text insert, 1988
“PP/Two Women – N, 1990, #1/3,” Limited Edition, Vintage Cibachrome Print from the Recto/Verso Series
Recto/Verso #12, Cibachrome photogram with velum text insert, 1988
Related to Periodical #5, 2/3, Polaroid, 1972
Are You Rea, 25 lithographs; included in the Recto/Verso Portfolio, 1968
Hite/Hustler Fashion Beaver Hunt #1, Found image and incised found image, pencil, found magazine text, masking tape on matboard, framed, 1981