A way to share and manage lots.
The way in which we curate our personal online presence via social media has become second nature; with instantaneous taps of a button we can shoot, edit and upload our image online, for all to see. Perhaps the most interesting part of this process is what we choose to share. Furthermore, how these projections are perceived by our fellow internet following. In a modern context, the phenomenon of creating our own online sphere has, in reality, become the art of painting a self-portrait.
Thirty years ago, a young Richard Prince embarked on a project to reconfigure the confines of the traditional portrait. The artist asked friends to submit their favourite photos of themselves, from which Prince made a selection and re-photographed the original. Prince saw the concept as intriguing, stating;
‘They didn’t have to sit for their portrait. They didn’t have to make an appointment and come over and sit in front of some cyclone or in front of a neutral background or on an artist’s stool. They didn’t have to show up at all. And they wouldn’t be disappointed with the result. How could they? It wasn’t like they were giving me photos of themselves that were embarrassing.’ (R. Prince quoted in “Richard Prince: New Portraits”, Press Release: Gagosian Gallery, 9 June 2015).
Prince’s unique method saw the collaboration between artist and subject curate the perfect portrait. The process was as definite as the results it produced. This foray became the platform for Prince’s most recent body of work, which includes the present lot. Under the username RichardPrince4, the artist becomes an online voyeur to his subject. These Instagram screen shots, which are taken from the profiles of people Prince found engaging in one way or another, once again redefines the confines of portraiture. Whether viewed as a simple appropriation or a complex comment on human perception, the experience of Prince's New Portraits series is fascinating.
American • 1947
While some artists are known for a signature style, Richard Prince is most closely associated with his subject matter: for instance, Cowboys, his series of the Marlboro man magnified between 1980 and 1994; Nurses, sinister yet seductive, all copies from pulp novel covers; joke text paintings, simple block lettering of his own or appropriated jokes. Often labelled an artist of the Pictures Generation alongside Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo, Prince has been said to be the contemporary artist who most understands the depth and influence of mass media over life in the 20th and 21st centuries. In whichever medium Prince chooses to work, he stays within the realm of appropriation.
Of course Prince is not met without controversy, and he has been on the losing end of several lawsuits involving copyright infringement. His "Instagram" series — unedited reproductions of content posted by models, influencers and celebrities on their personal feeds — sold for upwards of $100,000 at primary market, making for a memorable moment at Frieze Week New York in 2015.
London 14 October 2015 7pm