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Place(s) of work: New York (us)
Richard Prince is an American photographer and painter known for appropriating, re-photographing, and otherwise transforming images from mass media, advertising and entertainment. Prince's works opened up a discourse about the nature of authorship and copyright and has been the source of controversy, criticism and lawsuits.
Born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1949 to parents who worked in what later became the CIA, Prince has been exhibiting in New York since the late 70s. His earliest works were influenced by a fascination with advertising and the unattainable, obsessive and mythical nature of their subjects. At the time, he worked in the tear sheets department at Time Magazine and was constantly surrounded by advertisements. Prince began to re-photograph, crop and enlarge them, visually dissociating them with the logos and brand-name identities they assumed, sparking a discourse on authenticity, authorship and art. One of his most famous series consists of images of the Marlboro Man, revealing at once America's fascination with its mythic and heroic icons of days past as well as its commercial value in contemporary society. An image from the 'Cowboys' series became the first photograph to sell at auction for over one million dollars. A sculptural series consisting of molds made of various car hoods and repainted in matte, muted colors explored similar cultural obsessions through a slightly different mode of appropriation. By transforming familiar, iconic images, the appeal and accessibility of Prince’s works are heightened; according to Prince: “It’s almost as if in this culture information touches a chord in us the same way a hit song makes you impulsively keep a beat with everybody else—because you know you’re not the only one who thinks the song is great.”
Other famous works include Spiritual America (1983), featuring an already controversial image of a naked, 10-year-old Brooke Shields. 1999's Girlfriend' series utilized a series of images found in magazines like Car and Driver, Easy Rider and Muscle Car, cropped and enlarged so that the scale distances the viewer from the familiarity of its subject. Prince's 'Joke' series, begun in the late 80s, consists of short quips painted onto canvas. Receiving little attention when first produced, the series has come to represent Prince's unique method of re-contextualizing simple facets of mass culture. It is through various means of appropriation that Prince's subtle criticisms are made possible. In 2002, his 'Nurse' series draws inspiration from various pulp-fiction-cover nurses, projected and painted onto canvases in a dream-like soft focus. A bright and sometimes gaudy palette highlights the white of the nurse's hat, mask and uniform, which come to symbolize the mysterious, sometimes sinister objects of fetishization. In his most recent series of De Kooning paintings, Prince juxtaposes familiar elements from De Kooning's Women paintings with pornographic images, transgressing boundaries of propriety to comment on the state of contemporary cultures, high and low. Prince' works continue to draw mixed reviews, but his importance as an innovative appropriation artist is undeniable. Prince lives and works in upstate New York.
Watch a short video of Richard Prince on Art Talk!:
Watch a guided tour of Richard Prince's exhibit, Continuation, at the Serpentine Gallery in 2008 led by Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist:(read less)
Techniques & Media: Mixed Media, Painting, Photography
Influenced by : Jean-Michel Basquiat , Willem de Kooning , Marcel Duchamp , Bruce Nauman
Worked with : Cindy Sherman