Robert Heinecken was a pioneer in the postwar Los Angeles art scene who described himself as a para-photographer because his work stood “beside” or “beyond” traditional ideas of the medium. Published in conjunction with the first museum exhibition of the artist’s work since his death in 2006, this publication covers four decades of his remarkable and unique practice, from the early 1960s through the late 1990s, with special emphasis on his early experiments with technique and materiality. Culling images from newspapers, magazine advertisements and television, Heinecken recontextualized them through collage and assemblage, double-sided photograms, photolithography and re-photography. Although he was rarely behind the lens of a camera, his photo-based works question the nature of photography and radically redefine the perception of it as an artistic medium. As the most comprehensive survey of Heinecken’s oeuvre, this book sets his work in the context of twentieth-century history of photographic experimentation and conceptual art. An illustrated essay by conservator Jennifer Jae Gutierrez about the artist’s experimental techniques, which ranged from photograms to photolithography to collage, contributes to the sparse scholarship on Heinecken’s working methods.
Robert Heinecken was born in 1931 in Denver, Colorado and in 1942 his family relocated to Riverside, California. After serving in the US Marine Corp, he earned a BA in 1959 from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he continued his studies, specializing in printmaking and graduating with an MFA in 1960. He founded the graduate program for photography at UCLA in 1964, where he taught until 1991. Heinecken died at age 74 in 2006 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.