Robert Heinecken, ‘Venus Mirrored’, 1968, Heritage Auctions
Robert Heinecken, ‘Venus Mirrored’, 1968, Heritage Auctions

Robert Heinecken devoted his artistic career to questioning not only the role of the photographer, but also of the boundaries placed on the medium itself. In turn, he explored the role of the modern artist, creating a legacy that is often discussed more in terms of conceptual art and less in terms of photography. In fact, Heinecken was a self-defined 'paraphotographer' since his work stood 'beside' or 'beyond' traditional notions of photography. During the 1960s, a time when the definitions of beauty, race, and gender flooded the media and the public eye, Heinecken used his art as a means to question the origin and legitimacy of these social stereotypes. In his early work of assemblages of found images from torn magazine pages and for photographs of familiar media iconography, he used various creative methods such as lithography, etching, and direct-exposure photograms to transform the images. As a result, his work engages the viewer's natural desire to formulate representational images, while denying the reality of an individual continuous picture. In this iconic work, Venus Mirrored, 1968, Heinecken renders the photograph as a sculptural object, creating layers of transparent images of the female nude, which rotate on an axis and create a multiple of blended bodies contingent on how the manipulator turns each layer. This jewel-like multilayered film photo-sculpture nods to cinema, sequence, and media representation. Given its petite, compact size, this object evokes an intimacy with the beholder, who can quite literally hold and control the piece in their hands. A similar version, #6, was featured in the retrospective "Robert Heinecken: Object Matter" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York held from March 15-September 7, 2014; toured at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles held from October 3, 2014-January 18, 2015. This was the first retrospective of the artist's work since his death in 2006, displaying over 150 works of art spanning four decades. Proceeds from the sale of Venus Mirrored will help support the humanitarian programs of Medicines Global. MEDICINES GLOBAL Medicines Global, (501c3) is dedicated to inspire all adventure travelers to give back to the places they visit by delivering basic first aid supplies to designated medical centers and remote community-run health posts. Medicines Global expeditions have taken medical supplies to Nepal, Mongolia, Tibet, Guatemala, India, Ecuador, Siberia, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Laos, Cambodia and El Salvador. MEDICINES GLOBAL OUTDOOR YOUTH ABASSADORS (MGOYA) encourage, educate & inspire their fellow students to experience wilderness activities. Since its inception, MGOYA has provided more than 1000 urban youths with outdoor adventures in California.

Image rights: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The artist; Private collection, Los Angeles, California, gift from the above.

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