Untitled (almost original)
(American, born 1949)
2006. Pencil on paper and magazine illustration in artist's frame, 44 x 46" (111.8 x 116.8 cm)
In the late 1970s, Prince took a job at Time–Life, where he would rip out pages of magazines and send them to advertisers to demonstrate that their advertisements were published. In 1980, he began to re-photograph ads presenting them as art. “At Time–Life, I was working with seven or eight magazines, and Marlboro had ads in almost all of them,” he explained. “Every week, I’d see one and be like, ‘Oh, that’s mine. Thank you.’ It’s sort of like beachcombing.”1
Created more than twenty-five years later, Untitled (almost original) pairs two images: The drawing on the left is a sketch for an advertisement he bought at an auction, and the photograph on the right is an image that Marlboro considered for an ad campaign but did not use. Pairing the images within a frame, Prince imbues these objects—never meant to be viewed as artworks—with new meaning. Through imagery of the Marlboro Man, the cigarette company’s cowboy mascot, Prince explores the myth of American masculinity—characterized by ruggedness, virility, and independence—and how it is propagated by mass media. Presenting Marlboro ads in new contexts, Prince reveals the constructed nature of masculinity: “People usually look at photographs and expect to see fact, but in the end, don’t.”2
Transitory written and printed matter (receipts, notes, tickets, clippings, etc.) not originally intended to be kept or preserved.
In the visual arts, appropriation is the intentional borrowing, copying, and alteration of preexisting images and objects.
The Marlboro Man was originally conceived in 1954 to increase the consumer base for filtered cigarettes, which, at the time, were generally considered feminine. This effort is widely considered one of the most effective advertisement campaigns ever; sales increased 300 percent within the next two years.
Prince maintains an extensive and eclectic collection of objects and images, which he appropriates to create new works of art. In addition to works by other artists, he collects records, movie scripts, sketches from advertising campaigns, covers of pulp-fiction paperbacks, and other pop-cultural ephemera.