Lot 142
  • 142

Robert Heinecken

100,000 - 200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Robert Heinecken
  • 'Lessons in Posing Subjects'
  • Polaroid prints
  • Each Polaroid print approximately 3 1/8  by 3 in. (7.9 by 7.6 cm.)

    Each sheet approximately 15 by 20 in. (38.1 by 50.8 cm.)
the complete set of 41 plates of the series Lessons in Posing Subjects, comprising a total of 316 unique Polaroid SX-70 prints mounted to 41 sheets of BFK Rives deckle-edged paper, each signed, dated, and editioned '2/10' in pencil and with letterpress series title and text on the mount, 1981-82; accompanied by an original portfolio suitcase, inscribed with the photographer's personal address (41 plates and one case)


Acquired from the photographer, 1997


Robert Heinecken. Lessons in Posing Subjects (Brussels, 2014) (the complete set reproduced)

Robert Heinecken Photographist. A Thirty-Five-Year Retrospective (Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1999), pls. 67-70 (4 plates reproduced)

Kevin Moore, Robert Heinecken (London, 2012), pp. 99-101 (3 plates reproduced)

Robert Heinecken. Object Matter (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2014), pls. 75-9 (5 plates reproduced)

Catalogue Note

The Lessons in Posing Subjects series made in 1981-82 is Robert Heinecken’s incisive examination of implied meanings in contemporary visual culture.  Heinecken mined images from commercial advertisements, pornography, and other mass-produced print sources, and then photographed the found images of men, women, and children with Polaroid SX-70 film.  It is both a scathing and often humorous comment on American consumer culture.

Lessons in Posing Subjects is comprised of 41 plates, each of which corresponds to a social behavior and category: fashion, body language, or facial language.  Like his contemporaries Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari, Heinecken was deeply influenced by the omnipresence of photographic imagery within post-war American culture.  He was also inspired by Erving Goffman’s landmark study The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) and Gender Advertisements (1979).  Heinecken found surprising similarities in the language used by Goffman, a sociologist, and that of advertising and pornography.  Heinecken wrote his own sophisticated, tongue-in-cheek text that accompanies each plate of Lessons in Posing Subjects.

The present lot was acquired directly from Heinecken by Thom Schaar, an avid art and design collector from the Netherlands.  After meeting in Los Angeles in 1991, the two became friends, visiting with one another’s families, and continuing an extended written correspondence.  In 1997, Schaar acquired this complete set of Lessons in Posing Subjects, which Heinecken shipped to him in the makeshift portfolio suitcase that accompanies this lot. 

According to Luke Batten, Director of the Robert Heinecken Trust, there are only two complete sets of Lessons in Posing Subjects: the set offered here, and another in a private American collection.  There is a near-complete set consisting of 40 plates in the collection of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson.  A group of 28 plates sold in these rooms in the landmark auction of Photographs from the Polaroid Collection

A comprehensive list of titles of the 41 plates offered here is available at sothebys.com