• Mark Cator

John Heartfield, Robert Heinecken, John Baldessari


Heartfield, Heinecken, Baldessari, three artists who have appropriated photography, who are not themselves photographers, who have kept photography central to the core of their work, have used text to subvert an identified typology and from who I've borrowed, perhaps appropriated, many of their influences .... from me a big thank you.

So what is it that differentiates their work from other artists of appropriation? I guess that's copy for alot of debate but at the other end of the 'appropriation' spectrum are the likes of Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince, who at times seem to appropriate photography solely for postmodern 'bon-mots'.

John Heartfield pioneered the use of art as a political weapon, using photomontage and satire to savage effect in 1930's Nazi Germany. Between 1930-1938 he designed 240 pieces of anti Nazi art for the Workers Illustrated Paper, AIZ. He was also part of the German Dada movement and part of a circle of artists that included Hannah Hoch, George grosz, Kurt Schwitters and Rauol Hausmann.

Robert Heinecken used found images to explore the manufacture of daily life by mass media, thriving on contradictions, using the photograph and not the camera. In his own words, "I'm very interested in the random, I'm very interested in the accidental, I'm very fatalistic, I like humour. I don't really think of myself as a photographer in the classic sense, rather I use the term 'paraphotographer'". ... [I use] sources and images derived from the mass media rather than from nature ... the mass media is nature, one can view it as that. It's certainly not actual nature and not as organic or as interesting as nature might be but it is the most important thing that we see. It's the most important vehicle by which we gain information."

John Baldessari is an American conceptual artist known for his work featuring found photography and appropriated images. Baldessari’s work examines the plastic nature of artistic media while offering commentary on our contemporary culture. “I’ve often thought of myself as a frustrated writer,” he explained. “I consider a word and an image of equal weight, and a lot of my work comes out of that kind of thinking.” "I'll be remembered as the guy who put dots over peoples faces." Baldessari believes that every young artist should know three things, "talent is cheap, you have to be possessed which you can't will, and being at the right place at the right time."

John Heartfield, 1932, Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk

John Heartfield, 1932, The Meaning of the Hitler Salute

Robert Heinecken, 1971, Periodical No.5, [offset lithography]

Robert Heinecken, Are You Rea, No.10, 1964-68

John Baldessari, 1994, Money with Space Between

John Baldessari, 1986, Two Figures with One Shadow