Richard Prince - Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale New York Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gagosian Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    St. Barths, Eden Rock Hotel Gallery, Richard Prince, December 27, 2007- February 28, 2008

  • Catalogue Essay

    Debuting at the Eden Rock Hotel Gallery in the Caribbean island of St. Barths, Richard Prince’s triumphant Eden Rock (oil rig and cowboy), 2006, is part of a series inspired by the Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest. Here, the backdrop of an oil rig sets the tone for a show-down between two cowboys, Prince’s most beloved masculine subject matter. The series is essentially a story board for an original screen play by Richard Prince entitled Eden Rock, a combination of Nevil Shute’s post-apocalyptic novel On the Beach and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. The plot of this screen play is described as a survivalist tale, based on events gone wrong and ill-fated circumstances. Prince is quoted as being intrigued by “the idea of privilege turned on its head” and “when it comes to the fight for survival, clean water becomes more important than money.” (F. Martin, “Picture the End of the World”, The Guardian, March 25, 2008). These comments aptly describe the events transpiring before us, echoing the isembodied voices heard in movie trailers; behind one cowboy we find an oil rig spewing fire, behind the other, we find a flower. Within this mise-en-scene, a confrontation of opposing forces is about to explode, each protectively positioned before disparate symbols of wealth and nature.

    Playing with perception, the viewer’s perspective begins directly behind a pair of anonymous legs, clothed in military fatigues and worn leather cowboy boots. As the figure in the foreground stands in alignment with the oil rig, his blurred counterpart, another anonymous cowboy in full regalia, brandishes his whip while all but vanishing under a veil of expressive white brushstrokes. This broad treatment of the composition creates a sense of desolation, enveloping all but one natural element. While alluding to his Cowboys series, Eden Rock (oil rig and cowboy), 2006, simultaneously underscores a contemporary version of the hyper-masculine figure through the combination of spaghetti western and Die Hard-esque mise-en-scene. Unlike Prince’s Nurses, Cowboys, and Girlfriends, whose full figures and faces fill their respective compositions, the works of Eden Rock are void of the figure’s identity, allowing the viewer to project themselves into the dramatic tableaux.

  • Artist Biography

    Richard Prince

    American • 1947

    For more than three decades, Prince's universally celebrated practice has pursued the subversive strategy of appropriating commonplace imagery and themes – such as photographs of quintessential Western cowboys and "biker chicks," the front covers of nurse romance novellas, and jokes and cartoons – to deconstruct singular notions of authorship, authenticity and identity.

    Starting his career as a member of the Pictures Generation in the 1970s alongside such contemporaries as Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo and Sherrie Levine, Prince is widely acknowledged as having expanded the accepted parameters of art-making with his so-called "re-photography" technique – a revolutionary appropriation strategy of photographing pre-existing images from magazine ads and presenting them as his own. Prince's practice of appropriating familiar subject matter exposes the inner mechanics of desire and power pervading the media and our cultural consciousness at large, particularly as they relate to identity and gender constructs.

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Eden Rock (oil rig and cowboy)

acrylic on canvas
22 3/4 x 30 in (57.8 x 76.2 cm)
Signed and dated "R. Prince 2006" on the reverse.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $200,500

Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

7 March 2013
New York