Richard Prince

b. 1949, Panama Canal Zone, Panama. Lives and works in New York, USA


Richard Prince
Richard Prince, Untitled (four women looking in the same direction), 1977 and Untitled (Cowboy), 1994. Installation view You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred, 2017. Photo: Thierry Bal


Over the past four decades, Richard Prince has dealt in the act of making pictures that reveal how images can touch on the fundamentals of identity or, conversely, how the repetition of motifs and themes can numb meaning. Prince first rose to prominence using the technique of re-photographing and re-printing excerpts of advertising in a direct, unadorned manner. In Four Women Looking in the Same Direction, 1977, the female figures are locked together in a shared pose and shared anonymity. Prince’s most iconic series, begun in the early 1980s, lifts images of cowboys from Marlboro cigarette adverts. Central to his practice is a raw and unapologetic meditation on sex, money and power as they are expressed in American culture. Recently he has appropriated self-portraits, often salacious in tone, posted on popular Instagram accounts. Making no edits and including the corporate branding and his own gnomic comments posted beneath the image, Prince provocatively claims this form of self-expression for his own. Shifting the circulation of such images from what could be considered superficial channels into the high-value realm of contemporary art, Prince highlights the similarities that govern the making of pictures, showing that differences often amount to context and circumstance rather than something essential to the images themselves.