Richard Prince - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Luhring Augustine, New York
    Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York
    Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rising to prominence in the 1980s, Richard Prince is undoubtedly considered to be one of the most celebrated artists of our time for his use of appropriated images and texts taken from advertisement and mass media. He is an artist who is constantly testing the dominant perceptions of commerce, art and culture present in contemporary society from his iconic Cowboys to his latest Instagram series.

    Weeping and Crying, 1989 is an example from Prince's White Paintings, with its dynamic composition layering imagery and text, the canvas reads in a multitude of ways. The series is a fusion of his previous artistic styles and a more complex variant of his Joke paintings. In the present lot, a handwritten text is present amidst a silkscreened imagery, an illustration of a domestic environment and a printed joke, which sits at bottom of the work. The written text is in fact part of another joke which Prince has incorporated within the piece. This joke, however, is impossible to decipher due to it being almost completely covered by gestural marks. Indeed, Prince’s artistic hand is present in this work, which is visible by the white painterly texture occupying the backdrop of the painting. In this series, the artist blurs the realities of personal life and culture. The look of erasure in the painting also echoes the characteristic approach of Christopher Wool.

    Prince amalgamates disparate elements of American culture and decontextualises them from their original setting. In this way, the artist creates a new environment that allows for the interaction of texts and images in order to facilitate new implications and significance. Interestingly, the joke at the bottom of the painting, which appears to be the only element intact within the piece, is completely unrelated to the overall visual aesthetic. Perhaps there exists an answer to the enigmatic frame of references and the connection between the joke(s) and the images. Or maybe, the complex interplay between image and language here is Prince’s objective of making a joke out of the viewer’s confusion.

  • 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

Property from an Important Russian Collector


Weeping and Crying

acrylic and silkscreen on canvas
172.2 x 121.9 cm (67 3/4 x 47 7/8 in.)
Signed, titled and dated 'Richard Prince 'Weeping and Crying" 1989' on the overlap.

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £482,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm