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Richard Prince: Coolest Artist In The World




“I’m not a responsible person, you know — at all,” says Richard Prince, as if he is trying to remind himself of this as much as anything. “I’m just — I want to make cool shit. I want to be a cool dude, or whatever.”

Today, at 66, Prince is one of the most successful and influential artists of his generation — specifically, the Pictures Generation, an aloof clique of 1980s conceptualists that included Barbara Kruger, David Salle, Jenny Holzer, and Cindy Sherman (whom he used to date), who together reintroduced pictorial imagery to painting, in large part by borrowing it directly from advertising and mass culture. In music they call this “sampling,” and for Prince it started with his reshooting magazine ads with the logos of the products cropped out (he was working at Time Inc. and became fascinated by Marlboro cowboys). This new art was considered, at the time, a kind of critique of the aspirations advertising saddles us with. Some of the images, which Prince describes as “too good to be true,” were cropped or repeated, others simply held up, by Prince, for closer inspection. And the inspection could be lusty, especially when the images were icons of swaggering Americana. Recently, trying to explain the process, he wrote on his website: “It’s like sometimes I feel I’m fucking what I’m looking at.” His most memorable work is still a photograph he took of a photo of a 10-year-old Brooke Shields, standing naked in a tub, shrouded in steam, her hair and face made up, her body oiled like some ancient-days courtesan, which a photographer named Gary Gross had taken at Shields’s mother’s own behest.

Prince called his version Spiritual America, a name that was also an appropriation — the title belonged to Alfred Stieglitz’s close-up of the genitals of a castrated male horse  —and showed it in a gaudy frame in a small, semi-anonymous gallery he opened in a storefront on then-ragged Rivington Street in 1983, called Spiritual America too. At the time, some people compared it to a peep show, but what he had really done was create a semi-furtive place where prurient interest would be given an avant-garde alibi. The gallery kept irregular hours to keep out outsiders, which might not have been simple showmanship. In 2009, well after Prince had become famous, the work was removed from an exhibition at the Tate Modern by the police, who explained they wanted the museum to “not inadvertently break the law or cause any offense to their visitors.” Today, Spiritual America belongs to the Whitney, but you can’t look at it on its website — it’s hidden behind a large gray X.

[ click to continue reading at VULTURE ]

Posted on April 27, 2016 by Editor

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