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Robert Heinecken 
Shiva Manifesting as a Single Mother 
1989 
  
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© Robert Heinecken Estate; Courtesy of Joyce Neimanas 
  
 
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Photo Synthesis
Colin Westerbeck
 
A memorial service for Robert Heinecken will be held Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon in UCLA's Kerckhoff Hall. (2006)
 
Robert Heinecken could never decide what to call himself. Settling first on "paraphotographer," he later opted for "photographist." Really, though, he was a premature postmodernist. That movement, coming into its own during the '80s in the work of Richard Prince and others, appropriated images from mass media as its subject matter. But Heinecken was already doing that 20 years earlier. It explains why he didn't like "photographer," because the term meant someone who was making pictures rather than swiping them.
 
The piece seen here is typical, a collage of images cut out of magazines and glued down to form a paper bas-relief. Perhaps because he was too much a parodist for the rather humorless postmodernists, they never acknowledged how he pioneered their work. He was also early in recognizing feminism, but was never embraced by that movement either because he was suspected of also being a male chauvinist. He was, in his own unapologetic way.
 
The one place where he made a mark that no one disputes was in the classroom. Teaching at UCLA from 1960 until 1991, Heinecken educated an entire generation of photographers and postmodernists alike. He once publicly thanked his wife, photographer Joyce Neimanas, because she "lets me be who I am," and his students might have said the same of him. Many of them will be at the memorial service for Heinecken, who died on May 19. (2006)
 
[Originally published in West Magazine : August 6. 2006 , p.11] 
 
 
  

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