RICHARD PRINCE "FULTON RYDER AFTER DARK" 2012
Richard Prince (b. 1949) is one of the most innovative 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 his series shares a similar approach: extract an element from America's visual culture and elevate it similar to Duchamp's urinal.
Prince's key ingredients come through mass media. Whether it's nurses from the covers of pulp fiction novels, macho cowboys in Marlboro ads, or supermodel selfies, Prince reflects and subverts the gauntlet of American imagery.
Prince is an avid book collector and bibliophile, owning a massive collection of American postwar literature. He began appropriating pulp fiction paperback covers with his "Nurse" series first exhibited in 2003. Prince would scan the cover of pulp paperbacks, transfer them to canvas and paint, collage, and/or otherwise modify the covers. "Nurses" enhanced and subverted female nurses as a rampant source of fetishized sexual objectification in American adult pulp fiction.
In "Fulton Ryder After Dark", Prince continues to confront prevalent depictions of forbidden sexuality seen through the male gaze. The work consists of two images side by side in a diptych style.
On the right is a smaller image containing the (modified) cover of a novel "Fulton Ryder After Dark", while on the left is the enlarged painting originally used for the cover devoid of any text. The book cover titled "Fulton Ryder After Dark" is clearly from the retro-horror genre of pulp fiction, featuring a mysterious pair of floating hands ominously emerging from a blue background and violently strangling a woman. Dressed in a low cut white silk night gown with fiery red hair, the woman's face contains a dramatic expression of horror and shock at her ghastly situation. Above the image on the parody book cover, is a faux tagline reading "Want to free yourself from experience? Don't pay any attention to it."
Although somewhat violent and frightening, the imagery maintains the distinct style of pulp fiction paperback covers, which often employed tawdry or shocking imagery to capture interest. Prince's work seeks to expose the inner forces of desire and power, especially as they relate to identity and gender constructs.
Over the years Prince developed this easily identifiable and frequently employed layout of pairing two (and sometimes more) related images, a smaller image next to a larger one. This visual pairing exposes his taxonomical approach to appropriation and contextualization.
Much like the two images would be paired together in a museum display case or scrap-book, Prince pairs them together under his own authorship. Cheekily, he incorporates his own pseudonym of Fulton Ryder into the cover, formally stamping this "diptych" as his own.
Fulton Ryder is a pseudonym of Prince's which he uses in various contexts, most recently his handle on instagram. It was also the name of his secretive book store on New York's Upper East Side which held gallery-like exhibitions, but closed down in 2014. Books, and the cover art that defines them, play a significant role in Prince's oeuvre and personal life.
"Fulton Ryder After Dark" exemplifies Prince's subversive appropriation in his immediately recognizable format.
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"Fulton Ryder After Dark"
Offset lithograph in colors on wove paper
Signed, numbered, and dated in pencil lower right
From an edition of 100
30"H 26"W (work)
Literature: Jonathan Lethem, Richard Prince: Collected Writings, 2011.
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