Richard Prince. Entertainers. 1982-83

Richard Prince Entertainers 1982-83

  • Not on view

Entertainers reconfigures a dozen publicity shots of marginal figures—aspiring actresses, models, and singers—on a single sheet of photographic paper. Prince added bright colors and graphic elements to the original images, softened the focus, and raised the contrast, evoking the gaudy allure of a peep show or another cheap diversion. The similarity of the individual images flattens the distinctiveness that each may have claimed on its own, and the grid hints at a narrative where there is none. Like Andy Warhol before him, Prince applies the processes of commercial art to mass imagery, so the nominal themes and concerns of his work are inescapably social. Nevertheless, the impersonal coolness with which he strips his source images of their contexts and captions and the mechanical directness with which he presents the results create a haunting and mysterious quality that is unique to his art.

Gallery label from 2013.
Additional text

Entertainers reconfigures a dozen publicity shots of marginal figures—aspiring actresses, models, and singers—on a single sheet of photographic paper. Prince added bright colors and graphic elements to the original images, softened the focus, and raised the contrast, evoking the gaudy allure of a peep show or another cheap diversion.

Since the 1970s an important aspect of Prince's work has been his use of photographic techniques to recycle and reconfigure imagery appropriated from advertising and popular culture. In the early 1980s, he began to group related photographs in simple grids, which he called "gangs." The similarity of the individual images flattens the distinctiveness that each may have claimed on its own, and the grid hints at a narrative where there is none. Like Andy Warhol before him, Prince applies the processes of commercial art to mass imagery, so the nominal themes and concerns of his work are inescapably social. Nevertheless, the impersonal coolness with which he strips his source images of their contexts and captions and the mechanical directness with which he presents the results create a haunting and mysterious quality that is unique to his art.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 35.
Medium
Chromogenic print
Dimensions
61 1/2 × 46 1/2" (156.2 × 118.1 cm)
Credit
Gift of Werner and Elaine Dannheisser
Object number
295.1996
Copyright
© 2021 Richard Prince
Department
Photography

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