Richard Prince - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Barbara Gladstone Gallery

  • Catalogue Essay

    I got my supplies. I got my houseboat. I got a good pair of shoes. The light is good. The clock is ticking. I wake up and I’m doing it in my sleep. The bed is made and the floor is clean. It’s my turn to drive, I sit back. I stare. I stare at the painting and I forget. It’s finished. Then I get more canvas and more stretchers and more paint and start over.

    (Richard Prince, in Modern Painters, Special American Issue, Autumn 2002).

    Since the 1970s, Richard Prince has challenged and redefined the relationship between art, authorship, and originality. His iconic bodies of work embody his unique artistic aesthetic and his uncanny ability to transform American low brow culture into provocative high art. The inspiration behind his artistic marvels remains consistent throughout and imparts his endless fascination with American kitsch, pop culture, and pulp fiction. Untitled, 2001, is quintessentially Prince and exists as an artful hybrid of American subculture and the artist’s subversive sense of humor.

    Emanating from Prince’s well known Joke series, Untitled, 2001, teeters on the fringes of everyday America examining a seemingly banal barroom joke to unearth sexual fascinations, fantasies, and frustrations. At first blush, Untitled, 2001, appears satirically simple. It is only upon deeper reflection that its cunningness as a social commentary on public taste and prejudice is revealed. This masterful approach, and the resulting captivating artistic output, characterizes the whole of Prince’s Jokes series. While Prince’s Jokes come in several forms, they are consistent in their playful use of text as enduring subject matter.

    The Jokes series dates back over three decades to the 1980s, with Prince appropriating punch lines from the content of such printed matter as joke books and comics. Originally in the form of handwriting and drawings on paper, Prince’s Jokes later grew into more impressive works on canvas. Similar to his contemporary Barbara Kruger, Prince started to experiment with text set atop monochromatic backgrounds in a fearless fashion. The result was an astute social observation and evocative public message in the form of enthralling visual art. Untitled, 2001, achieves this effect through Prince’s purposeful use of bold text contrasted against the deep backdrop of a darkened canvas similar to the elemental juxtaposition of white chalk on a charcoal board. An empty stage swathed in nebulous hues is suddenly enlivened and illuminated through the vibrancy of comedic message. However, underlying this entertainment is a decisively rebellious act, a deviant flirtation, and a calculated plunge into the depths of our collective human psyche.

  • 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



acrylic on canvas
111 3/4 x 144 in. (300 x 370 cm)
Signed and dated “Richard Prince, 2001” along the overlap.

$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $662,500

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

15 November 2012
New York