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.
Author Blog: Croatia
My blog of reminisces about my time in Croatia -- and a story inspired by living in the Mediterranean paradise.
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.”
Denver Art Examiner
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Koreans in Denver are worried. Why? Listen to the news about North Korea. Make art, not war.
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/.
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.
Hubs About Eastern Europe
Kastav Film Festival: Kastav Film Festival by the Kvarner Bay of Croatia is a truly independent film festival run by students of nearby Rijeka University.
Far Corners: Bizovačke Spa: Far Corners looks at some lesser-known travel spots. This spa located between the Hungarian and Serbian borders in Croatia is still largely patronized by Eastern Europeans.
Far Corners: Zlatni Rt, Rovinj, Croatia: Far Corners takes a look at some of the lesser-known travel destinations. Zlatni Rt, or Punta Corrente, is a pebble beach located walking distance from Rovinj, Croatia.
Where to Eat in Denver
Mile Hi Life -- Places Worth the Splurge: The 9th Door. Mile Hi-Life looks at Denver-area restaurants that are a little higher-priced, but worth the splurge. At The 9th Door a meal with wine will cost around $40-$60.
Mile Hi Life -- Places Worth the Splurge: Le Central. Mile Hi-Life looks at Denver-area restaurants that are a little higher-priced, but worth the splurge. At The 9th Door a meal with wine will cost around $40-$60.
Denver Restaurant Week. Every year Visit Denver presents an event to celebrate the culinary offerings of the Mile Hi City.
Denver Dives Worth the Descent: Gomez Burritos: Located in Commerce City, Gomez Burritos is a hidey-hole worth finding.
Denver Dives Worth the Descent: Emilio's: Located on Colfax Avenue in Denver, Emilio's offers the best deal in margaritas.
Denver Dives Worth the Descent: Fat Bros. Fat Bros offers 50-cent chicken wings and other Happy Hour deals.
Tolovaj on December 25, 2014:
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.
bnovit on April 03, 2013:
love it !!
Nadia Archuleta (author) from Denver, Colorado on March 25, 2013:
They were indeed -- Communist History is a hobby of mine, which is 1 reason I like Al's art so much!
PepZ C from London/Nottingham on March 25, 2013:
Interesting hub..a lot of these art works were part of the propaganda tool...fascinating ;)