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Richard Prince (American, born 1949)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American artist. After making figurative paintings he worked as a picture researcher in the early 1970s, which influenced his first photographically-based work. He proceeded by rephotographing magazine advertisements, appropriating the imagery and raising questions about the originality and authorship of a work of art. In this respect his art was linked to that of other ‘appropriationists’ such as Louise Lawler, Mike Bidlo and Sherrie Levine. An early example of these works is Untitled (Living Rooms) (1975; Los Angeles, CA, Mus. Contemp. A.), four images of luxurious living rooms taken from a magazine. The series of photographs of the Marlboro Man made by Prince between 1980 and 1992, for example Untitled (Cowboy) (1992, Cologne, Gal. Jablonka), have come to be emblematic of his practice: these images of the American cowboy, drawn from a highly visible advertising campaign, question the mythology of the American dream and the commodification of the virile male. In 1983 Prince briefly ran a gallery called Spiritual America in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where he showed a pre-pubescent image of the actress Brooke Shields (Spiritual America, 1983; priv. col., see 1992 exh. cat., p. 86). His ambiguous re-presentation of this kind of questionable imagery has provoked debate about the degree to which he is criticizing or colluding with the material to which he refers. In 1984 he initiated a series based on jokes, with later versions employing silk screened cartoon imagery and text on canvas; Untitled (1991; Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.) bears the joke “I eat politics, I sleep politics, but I never drink politics”. His 1993 series of Girlfriends (see 1994 exh. cat.), which depict girls on bikes, often bare-breasted, looking uncertainly or defiantly into the camera, once again aroused controversy.

Catherine M. Grant
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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