Robert Heinecken, ‘Shiva, the Lord Whose Half Is Woman’, 1990, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
In 1989 the conceptual artist Robert Heinecken began a suite of collages based upon the Hindu deity Shiva. Heinecken’s grandfather had traveled to India as a missionary and married a Hindu woman. Inspired by his Hindu grandmother, Robert Heinecken maintained a lifelong interest in the religion, especially for the gender-shifting Shiva. Heinecken said, “Hinduism is the only religion where the boss can become anything: man, woman, tree . . . The love of sex, the poetry of sex, is so much tied into Hindu religion . . . I think you can find sexuality in everything, if you look closely enough, and I think it’s there in all my work” (told to A. D. Coleman, quoted in Robert Heinecken: Object Matter).

Heinecken’s fascination with sexuality – and its appropriation by the media – is on full display in this work, which addresses Shiva’s dual gender in title and execution. Heinecken clipped and collaged magazine images over a three-dimensional form, creating a dazzlingly complex commentary that is simultaneously a celebration of Shiva’s polymorphism and an incisive critique of the vapidity of media culture.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Signed, titled and dated in ink on the reverse of the flush-mount.

Robert Heinecken, Photographist: A Thirty-Five-Year Retrospective, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1 October- 28 November 1999, traveling to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 13 February- 24 April 2000

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Robert Heinecken: Photographist, cover (cropped), pl. 94, fig. 4

Acquired directly from the artist, 2006

About Robert Heinecken

Over five decades, Robert Heinecken's work as an artist and teacher radically expanded the reach of photography. A precursor to appropriation artists of the 1980s, Heinecken is known for series like the influential "Are You Rea" (1966-67), in which he used magazine pages placed on light tables to create unexpected juxtapositions of advertising and feature photography. Deemed a "para-photographer" for his unconventional processes and irreverent attitude, Heinecken typically worked from found images, transforming them through methods like lithography, etching, and direct-exposure photograms.

American, 1931-2006, Denver, Colorado, based in Los Angeles, California