RICHARD PRINCE "COUPLE" PHOTOGRAPH, 2006
Richard Prince (b. 1949) is one of the most innovative, influential and polemic American artists. Whether you associate him with The Pictures Generation, post-modernism, or appropriation art, his contribution is undeniable.
Prince has worked in a variety of formats over the course of his career, yet each of series shares a similar approach. He extracts elements from the American vernacular culture and positions it in a way similar to Duchamp's urinal.
Each body of work Prince presents locks onto and appropriates elements woven into the fabric of American culture which are typically disseminated through mass media. Whether it's nurses from the covers of pulp fiction novels, macho Cowboys in Marlboro ads, or supermodel selfies from social media, Prince covers and subverts the gauntlet of American pop culture imagery.
In the mid 1970's Richard Prince was working for Life Inc. in the tear-sheet department clipping articles from magazines for research. What remained from these deconstructed magazines were random advertisements featuring products and people (models) designed to influence American shoppers.
By 1977 Prince had created a new, innovative approach to photography, which he would later dub "rephotography". In this new method, Prince's photos eliminated all surrounding text and imagery that would contextualize the image as an ad.
Through appropriating and re-contextualizing the subjects featured in advertising images, Prince breathed new life into them. He created for them an ambiguous narrative outside of their intended purposes. By utilizing extra modifications like blurring, scarring, enlarging and cropping, Prince further removed the image from the source.
The series' Prince produced using this re-appropriation method questions issues of mass consumerism, reality vs. fiction in advertising, and formation of identity in a society made of commodity and spectacle.
This work is from Prince's Untitled (Couples) series from the late 1970's, however it was only editioned in 2006. In this work, a gorgeous, glamorously-attired couple send smouldering stares directly down the camera's lenses. Their attire is distinctly 70's glam. Although considered retro or out-dated when released in 2006, their garments reflect the era the original image hailed from. Like many works from this series, the models' coiffed, glossy beauty and poses imbue them with an surreal aurora. They could easily be beguiling androids or otherworldly spectres forever dazzling in their stylish attire. Prince's rephotography enhances the surface qualities and fantasy behind advertising - without any product placement.
Another provocative element of this work relates to race and representation. Images of glamorous black people, especially couples, were particularly rare during this era. Prince, whether intentionally or not, reinforced the anonymity of the models who appeared in his rephotographs. This work has a much different fate, as the man has been identified as legendary model Renaud White; the first black model to grace the cover of GQ magazine in 1979.
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Signed and lettered (each of the 26 editions is lettered from A to Z)
From an edition of 26
20"H 24"W (work)
23.5"H 31"W (framed)
Very good condition.
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