Lessons in Posing Subjects

Robert Heinecken

Despite rarely using a camera during his career, Robert Heinecken (1931–2006) is widely considered one of the most influential post-war American photographers. Describing himself as a 'paraphotographer', Heinecken tirelessly explored the nature of photography and the ideas traditionally associated with it, through a large variety of techniques, including sculpture, video, printmaking and collage.

The exhibition at Fri Art examines a pivotal period in the artist's career, during which Heinecken used a Polaroid SX-70 camera. The presentation includes the first examples of works using this medium, starting in the mid-1970s until his most iconic project, the series Lessons in Posing Subjects, dating from 1981-82, and presented here in its entirety. Playing with the reality effect inherent to instant photographs, the artist re-contextualizes images found in mail order catalogues, which he juxtaposes with ironic texts. At once seductive and full of humour, his 'lessons' are no less provocative, bearing witness to the commitment of this controversial artist, who considered his approach a form of 'guerrilla' artistic practice. A pioneer of the Pictures Generation, which emerged at the time, Heinecken explored the standardising effect of mass media and the link between original and copy, while pursuing themes that span his entire oeuvre, such as American popular culture, consumer society, pornography and gender.

The exhibition is produced in partnership with Wiels, Brussels and OPEN EYE, Liverpool. Curated by Devrim Bayar.

With the support of:

AGGLO Fribourg
La Ville de Fribourg
La Loterie Romande
Etat de Fribourg
Fondation Nestlé pour l’art
Fondation Volkart

Artist Information


Press release (49.66 KB)