Robert Heinecken: Object Matter

Robert Heinecken. _V.N. Pin Up_. 1968. Black-and-white film transparency over magazine-page collage, 9 × 7″ (22.9 × 17.8 cm). Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Gift of Daryl Gerber Stokols. © 2014 The Robert Heinecken Trust

Robert Heinecken. V.N. Pin Up. 1968

Black-and-white film transparencies over magazine-page collages
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Gift of Daryl Gerber Stokols
© The Robert Heinecken Trust

Glenn Lowry: Curatorial Fellow Drew Sawyer.

Drew Sawyer: VN Pinup it's a reference to the Vietnam War. There's a layering of not only the transparency over the collage but then the collage itself which is numerous layers of magazines and newspapers. And what we're seeing underneath the body in addition to the prominent breasts and bra, is an article reporting on the Vietnam War. And you see the words "Southland Men Killed in Action," "Southland," meaning Los Angeles.

Heinecken was interested in this relationship between sex and violence in America, and perhaps suppression of sex, and seeing those as related, especially in the media. When he was making these in the mid- to late '60s, while sex might have been implicit in many advertisements or magazines, there wasn't any sort of explicit sexual imagery. He was trying to bring that to the fore in works like this.

Glenn Lowry: All the transparencies on this wall are from the Latent Image Company. Curator Eva Respini.

Eva Respini: The Latent Image Company is a mail-order company that Heinecken used a lot. And these were pinup soft-core pornography. The rolls of film came with instructions on how to develop it and also how to make your own pictures. It was aimed at an amateur photographer but also aimed at an amateur pornographer. This came out of southern California at a time when the porn industry was starting to emerge and then eventually became a booming center. Heinecken was very interested in these amateur applications or vernacular applications of photography.

Glenn Lowry: The artist, speaking in 1988.

Robert Heinecken: They are, you know, classic, stylistically correct, pinup pictures, the arms up and so on. So I'm not going to hire a model or get a friend to pose this like when, for twelve dollars, I can buy a whole roll of these things, which are authentic. It's culturally authentic rather than posed or something like that.

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