Untitled (Cowboy)

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Ο ♦4

Property from the Estate of Dr. Fredric S. Brandt, Miami

Untitled (Cowboy)

1980-86
101.5 x 76.5 cm (39 7/8 x 30 1/8 in.)
Ektacolor photographic print
Signed, numbered and dated 'R Prince I/II 1980-86' upper left border. This work number 1 from an edition of 2.

Estimate
£500,000 - 700,000 ‡

sold for £602,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
psumner@phillips.com
+44 207 318 4063

  • Provenance

    Gladstone Gallery, New York
    Skarstedt Fine Art, New York
    Mitchell-Innes and Nash, New York
    Phillips de Pury, New York, Contemporary Art Part 1, 11 May 2006, lot 26
    McCabe Fine Art

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘When I first rephotographed an image I was simply trying to put something out there that was more natural looking than it was when I saw it as a photograph. I wanted a more genuine quality of the image and in order to get that and to return to what the image originally was, I decided to rework the photo the same way as it was first worked on. At that time I did not know anything about photography and this gave me a great deal of freedom. I think this would not occur to the real photographer. I did not consider myself as a photographer, I considered myself an artist.’ (Richard Prince interviewed by Noemi Smolik in Richard Prince Photographs 1977-1993, Hannover 1994, p.27)

    Extracting images from Marlboro cigarette adverts, Richard Prince began his most renowned series of works in 1980 entitled Cowboys. Removing all text and branding from the magazine cuttings he chose to rephotograph, Prince transformed these adverts into large works of art that still retain a grainy printed quality - only adding to their nostalgic charm. A distinct symbol of America, these majestic horse-riders became iconic symbols of patriotism and national pride where the free-spirited, virile cowboy powering through the Wild West became a focal point for traditional artists as well as Hollywood films, advertisements and popular culture. However, Prince became drawn to Marlboro’s adverts only once they had become redundant. The cowboy campaign had ceased to develop after commercials for smoking were restricted as a result of governmental censoring put in place for unhealthy products. Since this image was inextricably bound to this renowned cigarette brand, the representation of cowboys paradoxically became associated with disease and decay.

    Prince therefore, started assimilating images on this theme that would capture his imagination for over three decades. A wistful longing for a bygone age seems to come across in images such as Untitled (Cowboys). The lonesome cowboy with his 'trusty steed' already seem to be cast in exile as he is portrayed in a desolate rugged landscape. Prince’s method of rephotographing generates further colour contrasts thus accentuating the warm lighting. In this manner a Hollywood-style glow characterises many of these works. Pinkish tones and golden sunsets contrasted by blue lakes create a slightly saturated version of ‘reality’. Like a pleasant memory, these cowboys are seen through rose-tinted spectacles. On the other hand, this series of works could equally be seen as sardonic appropriations used to shatter a regressive stereotype as well as the deeply ingrained belief in the importance of artistic gesture that Prince almost completely eliminates from his works.

    The contrasting ideas brought to light in Prince’s Cowboys define them as some of his most fascinating works. Striking in its visual qualities as well as its thought-provoking seduction, the series is a prominent illustration of one of the most important stages in Prince’s career that not only encapsulates his personal creative developments, but equally the central aspects of the American culture these works were spawn from.

  • Artist Bio

    Richard Prince

    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.

    View More Works

Ο ♦4

Property from the Estate of Dr. Fredric S. Brandt, Miami

Untitled (Cowboy)

1980-86
101.5 x 76.5 cm (39 7/8 x 30 1/8 in.)
Ektacolor photographic print
Signed, numbered and dated 'R Prince I/II 1980-86' upper left border. This work number 1 from an edition of 2.

Estimate
£500,000 - 700,000 ‡

sold for £602,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
psumner@phillips.com
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 14 October 2015 7pm

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