Richard Prince - Contemporary Art London Friday, October 13, 2006 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    D. Fogle, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and LOVE THE JOKE (Painting)”, Parkett, New York/Zurich, No. 72, 2004, p. 109 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Like the [appropriated] photographs, the jokes were now his, part of his repertoire or “act.” Like the advertising images, they represent a kind of low cultural expression whose authors are largely anonymous; yet they have a distinctive if unrecognized form and style. By isolating them he exposed their malevolence, perversity, and anger. The underlying sexuality of Prince’s work became blatant in the jokes and cartoons.

    In January 1985, Prince moved to Los Angeles for five months, and it was there that he really understood what he was doing with the jokes and cartoons. Perhaps it was the dark side of LA, where the worlds of Hollywood and TV rub up against the counterculture; the cults, serial murderers, dropouts, end of the roaders –the other side of paradise. He understood that in these jokes and cartoons there were recurring patterns and subversive, often inflammatory content. They dealt with taboos (incest, sexual abuse), abandonment, and terror. It was also a time when he confessed going “after images that have more to do with me personally.” The introduction of text and its handwritten transcription allowed Prince to fuse concerns present in his writing and drawing (which had been mainly a private affair) with photographic work –and with painting which he would soon take up again.

    By the summer of 1987, Prince was transfiguring the handwritten jokes to canvas, and he began experimenting with layered silkscreened cartoon images and captions as well. He had no intention of showing these paintings –they were a private activity, which Prince himself didn’t quite know what to make of –and he called them “summer style” paintings, as if to downplay their seriousness. Nevertheless, his interest in making paintings grew, and when eventually he did exhibit paintings they were large, monochromatic canvases with single jokes silkscreened in different colors in the center –as minimal, mechanical, and blunt as the early rephotography had been. They seemed to be a joke on painting and a joke on the idea that art is something to be labored over. Prince was beginning to test what his relationship to painting could be,” (L. Phillips, “People Keep Asking: An Introduction”, Richard Prince, New York, 1992, p. 42 – 43)

  • 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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So What Else is New

Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas.
56 x 48 in. (142.2 x 121.9 cm).
Signed, titled and dated “R. Prince 1988 ‘So What Else is New’” on the overlap.

£300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for £433,600

Contemporary Art

14 Oct 2006, 7pm