Richard Prince - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, May 10, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gagosian Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in May 2016

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1984, Richard Prince began his celebrated Cartoon series, a body of work from which the present lot originates, whereby the artist re-photographed illustrations from The New Yorker and Playboy Magazine, combining pre-existing images with his own overlaid drawings. Executed in 2015, Untitled (cartoon) is a wry and provocative example from this series, in which the artist superimposes his own frenzied, graffiti-like scrawls rendered in silkscreen on top of a bawdy Playboy cartoon. Here, a nude couple sits perched atop a brick wall, unapologetically in brazen nakedness and absorbed in conversation, seemingly unaware of the second couple sitting inside the building. Juxtaposed against this racy imagery are Prince’s screened black and red scribbles, textured with the pooling ink from the screen that at once intentionally obscure and reveal elements of the picture beneath. Below the cartoon reads a one-line gag – “My philosophy, Mr. Mathews, is to love everyone – not make love to everyone” – a cheeky quip that adds a narrative element to the work. This deadpan humor is characteristic of Prince’s oeuvre, and reveals the artist’s own attitudes towards contemporary society which are visually manifested in the work at hand.

    In blowing up the original cartoon and representing it in large-scale format, Prince does not shy away from the notion of re-appropriation, but instead confronts it head on. Rather than obscuring the original cartoonist John Dempsey’s signature, Prince includes this, along with the magazine page number, in the lower right corner of his composition. Dempsey was a well-known Playboy illustrator whose cartoons lampooning American subculture were a staple of the magazine for over five decades. In re-contextualizing these notorious images and caustic one-liners, Prince develops his own dark and humorous commentary. As such, Untitled (cartoon) stands as a striking example of Prince’s hallmark style, masterfully combining conceptual rigor and humor – the cornerstones on which the artist’s ever-provocative career was founded.

  • 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.

    View More Works


Untitled (cartoon)

signed and dated "Richard Prince 2015" and stamped by the artist's studio on the overlap
inkjet and silkscreen on canvas
71 7/8 x 53 1/2 in. (182.6 x 135.9 cm.)
Executed in 2015.

$350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $375,000

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018