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Art in Denver: Al Heuer Photography, Neo-Marxist Pop Artist

Updated on April 13, 2013
The Glorious Workers, by Al Heuer
The Glorious Workers, by Al Heuer | Source

Picture vivid red highlights underpinned by shadowy blue on a canvas of cream. Men with their heavy-muscled torsos exposed reaching for the sky. Feminism in the form of factory workers, men and women working side by side. Tanks. Helicopters. Subtle curves of the sickle. A clutched hammer. Dark figures of soldiers disappearing into the horizon. This is Al Heuer’s photography, Neo-Marxist Pop Art in Denver, Colorado.

All Power to the Soviets, by Al Heuer
All Power to the Soviets, by Al Heuer | Source

The Artist

Al Heuer is an artist who takes his photographs and turns them into pieces that resemble the Communist propaganda posters he admires. He enjoys the bright colors and political themes featured in these pieces, which is clear in his own art. He states the posters with their “bold messages and beautiful idealism” have not received the praise they deserve as fine art.

Concerning messages and idealism, Heuer describes himself as a Marxist. He will even go so far as to self-identify Communist. He does not, however, appreciate the term “Socialist” as he feels it is a compromise. In an interview given to Blake Deppe for People’s World, a Marxist-leaning publication, Heuer stated, “I deeply believe in the causes of the working class. I'm from the working class!" He comes by these leanings honestly: not only is he a truck driver by day, but his family’s birthplace in Eastern Germany/Western Poland once stood as the breeding ground for grass-roots Marxism.

Concerning his art, Heuer told Deppe, "Political art is a great avenue to capture the imaginations of today's people.”

Rise of the Red Worker II, by Al Heuer
Rise of the Red Worker II, by Al Heuer | Source

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The Art

Marxist messages are nothing new to art. Socialist Realism, the official artwork of the Soviet Union, held the theology for the furtherance of socialist and communist goals. Even neo is not, strictly speaking, new. Social Realism is a form of art created to draw attention to the workers. It depicts their everyday life, their plight, and often the social structures that maintain their conditions. In this last aspect it obviously divides sharply from Socialist Realism. However, an artist whose images hang in a gallery just a block away from the Democratic Party offices… that is taking political art to another platform.

Heuer coined the phrase “Neo-Marxist Pop Art,” taking some inspiration from Andy Warhol, the father of Pop Art. He has conducted photo shoots in both Russia and China, his subjects often the history-makers of these countries ensconced in iron. A self-described history buff, he strives to show how the past and present co-exist. To make the photos resemble Communist propaganda posters, he uses various techniques in Photoshop and a special printer for canvas.

Heuer currently has three collections. His Red Rus collection features photos from when he visited Moscow, having even marched in a pro-Communist parade. His Red is Coming collection features photos from a visit to China, and includes one of my favorites, "People's Revolution II." Pathways features a series of scenery photos done in black and white; interestingly, these were Heuer's first.

Heuer’s artwork hangs in Artwork Network on Denver’s art walk, Santa Fe Drive (878 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204). It is also available on his website: http://www.redarmyart.com/.

Marx, by Al Heuer
Marx, by Al Heuer | Source

Marxism

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels served as the founders of the Marxist movement in the 19th century. This socio-economic ideology purported to inspire people to actively change the existing system of the time. They collaborated to this end both in France and Belgium. Taking Marxism into the 21st century, the current Marxist website (Marxists.org), states their movement “fights for the self-emancipation of the working class.” Of course, the duo's most famous published work is The Communist Manifesto.

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Al Heuer and his wife, Silvia, in front of my favorite piece, People's Revolution II.
Al Heuer and his wife, Silvia, in front of my favorite piece, People's Revolution II. | Source

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    • profile image

      Katherine 18 months ago

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    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 2 years ago

      It's interesting to see this kind of art in different surrounding. I was raised in communism (I noticed you mentioned Croatia, which was part of the same country as 'my' Slovenia), now we have capitalism and I can say it really doesn't matter which social system we live in, we'll always have good and bad guys. And we'll always have art and propaganda, with often very unclear borders between both.

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      bnovit 4 years ago

      love it !!

    • nArchuleta profile image
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      Nadia Archuleta 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      They were indeed -- Communist History is a hobby of mine, which is 1 reason I like Al's art so much!

    • PepZ C profile image

      PepZ C 4 years ago from London/Nottingham

      Interesting hub..a lot of these art works were part of the propaganda tool...fascinating ;)