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  • Provenance

    Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    V. Pécoil, “Der Leser: Richard Prince”, Parkett, New York/Zurich, No. 72, 2004, pp. 128-129 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    John Wayne, Gene Autry, and the Marlboro Man: recognized symbols of American history that are universally mythologized through their countless incarnations and reproductions. They are self-reflexive images of American pop culture, icons and purveyors of American consumer style as dictated by the mass media. Richard Prince heralds us to a time in history when the Cowboy reigned supreme, possessing those masculine qualities that lead boldly and courageously, exploring and safe-guarding the Western frontier.

    Richard Prince began his Cowboys series in 1980, when he chose to re-photograph these enigmatic images that capture the essence of the cowboy. His chosen subjects remain anonymous to us, void of individual characterization; it is their symbolic representation that remains foremost in Prince’s depiction. As Boris Groys describes, “The pictures that Prince selects are not pictures of the dominating culture, the dominating taste – yet they are not pictures of alternative culture, protest or the exotic either. At the same time they are also not pictures of daily life or the average commonplace. They fall into a gap between any pair of known alternatives. And they evade any specific categorization.” (B. Groys in C. Haenlein, ed., Richard Prince: Photographs 1977-1993, Hannover, 1994, p. 17)

    Described as a depiction of “Banal America” by Rosetta Brooks, the Cowboy photographs, originally Marlboro cigarette ads - had been “Cut loose and were resting somewhere in the sediment of culture”. By appropriating these images the ethical question as to whether this is an act of collusion with corporate machine or of alienated subversion is posed. “Perhaps it is closer to the truth to suggest that by exploiting the seductive power that Marlboro was forced to abandon …Prince creates an eschatological sense of cultural termination, the end of the wilderness, and the end of the Romantic image of the cowboy.” (R. Brooks, “A Prince of Light or Darkness?”, Richard Prince, London/New York, 2003, pp. 61-62)

    Perhaps the success and appeal of these photographs lies in the way that they reside on multiple levels, sparking questions on proprietorship; the relationships between producer and the consumer, and the appropriation that results. But one must not overlook the powerful cinematic qualities that they possess. Playing the role of director, Prince has created visual worlds that play out like epic films--- keeping his audience on the edge of their seat. The artist captures the idolatrized Cowboy in scenes of grand, sweeping landscapes.

  • 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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6

Untitled (Cowboy)

1997
Ektacolor print.
49 1/4 x 74 5/8 in. (125.1 x 189.5 cm).
Signed, numbered of two and dated “R Prince 1997” on the reverse. This work is from an edition of two plus one artist’s proof.

Estimate
$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $744,000

Contemporary Art Part I

16 Nov 2006, 7pm
New York