RICHARD PRINCE "BURNING BED" 2011
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 (and subversive humor) is undeniable.
Prince has worked in a variety of formats over the course of his career, yet each of his iconic and provocative series shares a similar approach. At his best he extracts elements from the American vernacular culture and positions it in a way similar to Duchamp's urinal.
Prince started to work with jokes in 1986. These works were a bold contradiction to the reigning hierarchies in the art world perpetuated by Minimalism or Neo-Expressionist painting.
This example from this "Greeting Cards" series is a fine example of one of Prince's jokes. Resembling a classic Hallmark card, this work features a joke handwritten by the artist. In ‘Burning Bed’, we read: “Fireman pulling drunk out of burning bed: “You darn fool, that’ll teach you to smoke in bed.” Drunk: “I wasn’t smoking in bed. It was on fire when I laid down.”
Prince perfectly combines the macabre with the absurd here. The earliest of Prince's jokes were similar to this print - they appeared to be simple handwritten notes. Their simple, or anti, aesthetic seemed to be simultaneously parodying tropes established by Conceptual and Minimalist artists of the previous decade (Yoko Ono comes to mind)
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"Greeting Cards #1: Burning Bed"
Foil-stamped print, on heavy wove paper
Signed and numbered by the artist
From an edition of 100
Literature: Jonathan Lethem, Richard Prince: Collected Writings, 2011.
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