Robert Heinecken: Object Matter

ARTBOOK | D.A.P.
Mar 12, 2014 9:18PM
In her essay for Robert Heinecken: Object Matter, published to accompany the exhibition opening this week at The Museum of Modern Art, curator Eva Respini writes, "Robert Heinecken (1931–2006) is a difficult artist to categorize, and a man who thrived on contradiction, in both his work and his life. He was a photographer who rarely picked up a camera; a teacher well versed in photography's history who rebelled against the medium's conventions; a trained fighter pilot who cultivated a radical artistic persona, complete with ponytail and beard; a charismatic figure respected by the women who knew him, whose use of pornographic material, however, drew fierce feminist critique; a profoundly American artist with a strong allegiance to the European avant-garde. America and its obsessions with sex, consumerism, violence, war, TV, and cheap copies are at the forefront of his art. Heinecken's work is often messy, sometimes shocking, other times analytic, but always provocative—his examination of the particularly American terrain of sex and violence was unapologetic. He was a cross-disciplinary pioneer who used diverse techniques and materials to make his work. His free use of found images and inquiry into the nature of representation anticipated the current use of photographs as tools to investigate our culture's self-definition in a world overflowing with images and copies of images. Heinecken's photo-based works destabilize the very definition of photography, and essentially redefine its perception as an artistic medium. 'The photograph,' he argued, 'is not a picture of, but an object about something.'" Cybill Shepherd/Phone Sex (1992) is reproduced from Object Matter.
ARTBOOK | D.A.P.
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