Richard Prince was in quest of finding another type of art world, his constant stubbornness of being independent and to be a contributor in this very art world he wanted to create, as well as to be able to make something which hasn’t been made, to see something which hasn’t been seen, since then he has come a long way as he describes this in an interview with Louisiana channel. Richard Prince was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1949 but was brought up in Massachusetts. He is a painter and a Photographer, also considered a pioneer of appropriation art. His art is always surrounded by controversies, plagiarism and copyright issues.
The relations with his family were not that good. Fascinated by New York, he moved in 1977, after being rejected by the San Francisco art institute. In New York, he prepared magazine clippings for Time-Life, which ignited his interest in advertising and consumer imagery. These Magazine’s clippings floated interest in him, which led him to create work based on various pop culture images taken from magazines and newspapers, often re-photographing and modifying those images in his work. Also known as the father of Appropriation Art.
Philosophy, style of work | Richard Prince
It is so fascinating to witness his rebellious nature, though he has spent a fair amount of time in courtrooms for countless lawsuits against his various artworks accused of plagiarism. He is nowhere near halting. The Artist lives by the philosophy, “good artists borrow, great artists steal”.
It’s a philosophy he seems to live and die by; his artwork used to look more real than the real stuff.
Most of his work features scandalous subjects making it more controversial with obvious copyright issues. Borrowing advertisements from magazines and reworking to make something new to establish a different perspective of the same content is what his work is about. How can old become new, with interpretation and given a different meaning?
He used to collect a humongous amount of magazines and clippings, a suitcase full for inspiration. His cowboy series rephotography work got extremely famous in the 1980s inspired by the Marlboro advertisement campaign; but also stirred controversy. He tried a variety of things for work. His interest then rose towards writing jokes. He began with an ironic joke series. Later on, from his home in upstate New York, he was into Pulp romance novels and created the Nurse Paintings series.
The painter used to play with words and texts, he used to put together images and texts, say for example captions, these texts and images didn’t have any relation to each other. The artwork boasted this one-liner with a monochrome background, with the help of acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas. These jokes were taken from New Yorker cartoons and joke books. Prince’s work usually consists of marginal and banal aspects of society, be it jokes, photographs, or idol worship. He identifies and samples visual codes, & later finely tunes them to make them seductive and strange despite their banality.
His famous ‘re-photographs‘ were often created by retaking pictures of existing images also used to get the gloss effect, often a work of glossy magazine covers, with additional alterations in the form of colour, lighting, focus or even tape. Prince opens up a fresh perspective with them.
In his writings Practising without a Licence 1977, he believes and writes that Rephotography is a technique for stealing (pirating) already existing images, he uses a word simulating the images rather than “copying”, and “managing” them, the reproduction is made as natural as possible just as they were first produced. To call it, A resemblance rather than a reproduction, he believes “a rephotograph is essentially an attempt to add this reality onto something more real, a virtuoso real, a reality that has the chances of looking real, but a reality that doesn’t have any chances of being real.”
Richard Prince also writes that appropriation has to do with the inability of the author/artist to
like his or her work. Adding to that, he believes it’s a lot more satisfying to appropriate, especially if one is attempting to produce work with a certain believability. He states with an example that “ If you take someone else’s work and call it your own, you don’t have to ask an audience to take my word for it”. It’s not like it started with you and ended up being guessed at.
Richard Prince became well known in the era of the emergence of contemporary art and thus landed on vogue subjects- he gathered inspiration from pop culture advertisements, and magazines. He took consumer brands for some of his artworks, among them was a marijuana brand “Katz + Dogg” for which he designed the special edition issue of High Times magazine; Not only this, but After the success of his Nurse paintings of 2003, he deliberately challenged the copyright laws, and just later, he collaborated with the French fashion house Louis Vuitton and with Marc Jacobs, its head designer. Richard Prince has gone far with testing the boundaries of copyright that he doesn’t even bother if he’s accused of plagiarism. He even appropriated an entire book!
One book Richard Prince has been known to appropriate is J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. A literal copy with the prince’s name on the cover, and to stun you further, he didn’t even write the book. a complete reproduction of the first edition of Catcher in the Rye. Prince explains he worked extremely hard on getting his appropriation of the novel, how he mimicked the original by considering every aspect: the paper thickness, the classic typeface, the dust jacket with its text. One can only assume how much Salinger would be unhappy about this.
Richard Prince has been known to blaze new trails for photography with his explorations of appropriation, identity, and the meaning of images. Throughout his career, he has rephotographed and cropped published works and set forth them as his own works, turned screenshots from women’s Instagram accounts into an inkjet-printed-on-canvas pieces which has been sold for six-figure prices, exhibited a good number of compositions that touch on sexual taboos. All of this has made Prince an essential member of the so-called Pictures Generation of photographers.
In 2001, he turned an abandoned farmhouse into an installation site, where he has installed the interior with his sculptures, paintings, and his own books; Prince’s work was the subject of a major retrospective and has been purchased by the Guggenheim Museum in New York, but it got destroyed in 2007, as it was struck by lightning. Richard Prince’s exhibitions have been displayed across the world in cities including New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Tokyo, and Berlin. His work is in collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others, and it has also been sold for millions on the secondary market.
Richard Prince. Richard Prince [online] (Last updated:-NA).
Available at:http://www.richardprince.com/ [Accessed date:2 Feb 2023]
Artnet. Richard Prince [online] (Last updated:-2023).
Available at:https://www.artnet.com/artists/richard-prince/ [Accessed date:1 Feb 2023]
Elena Martinique (2016). The Priciest Richard Prince Paintings and Photographs Sold at Auction [online] (Last updated:-July 2016) Available at: https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/richard-prince-photography-richard-prince-paintings [Accessed date:1 Feb 2023]
Marvin Heiferman (1988). Richard Prince by Marvin Heiferman [online] (Last updated:-July 2016) Available at: https://bombmagazine.org/articles/richard-prince/ [Accessed date: 31 Jn 2023]
Louisiana Channel . (2022). I am forming my own world. That’s basically what artists do., artist (Richard Prince ). [Youtube Video]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kTx3A4OFIw [Accessed: 03/ Feb/ 2023].