People in the Frame 1948–1952 by William Heick

People in the Frame 1948–1952 by William Heick

During his seven-decades-long career in photography and filmmaking, William Heick explored the world through images. Heick brought a humanistic and photojournalistic approach to his life-long passion of documenting people through photography and film.

Heick was born in 1916 in Kentucky and attended the University of Cincinnati. He served as a naval intelligence photographer in the Pacific during World War II, and after the war, he moved to San Francisco to work in his brother-in-law’s landscaping business. He studied fine-art photography on the G.I. Bill with notable instructors Ansel Adams and Minor White at the California School of Fine Arts, now known as the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). While at SFAI, Heick forged long-lasting friendships with photographers Imogen Cunningham and Dorothea Lange, who strongly influenced his artist vision.

Heick was well known for his ethnographic photographs and documentary films. During most of the 1950s and 60s, he was a producer-director, assistant historian, and cinematographer for the international engineering firm Bechtel Corporation. His work with Bechtel took him to remote locations in the Arctic, South America, Africa, Greenland, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. Heick served as director and chief cinematographer for the anthropology department at the University of California, Berkeley, and for the National Science Foundation’s American Indian film project.

William Heick’s fine-art photography has been exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); the California Palace of the Legion of Honor; the de Young Museum; the Seattle Museum of Art; the University of Washington; and California State University, Chico. Heick’s photographs are in the permanent collection of numerous museums including SFMOMA, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 


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Thursday, December 11, 2014 to Wednesday, February 11, 2015