Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Don't they have anything by, like, Hopper?

Over the weekend I finally checked out the Richard Prince exhibit
at the Walker (the same museum where Ben and I were nearly
trampled by voracious Cubist-lovers on the final night of the
Picasso exhibit). I'd heard a lot about this Richard Prince. He's
notorious for for his appropriation of images from popular culture,
but not exactly in the Warholian way. He really takes this shit
further than Warhol ever did. Pop artists like Warhol and
Lichtenstein appropriated “low culture” images (comics, soup
cans, images of celebrities) to make art that critiqued the
methods of mass-media and the idea of art as commodity. But
what Prince does, more drastically, is re-photographs existing
photographs and mass-media images, including print ads and
pics from magazines, and position them as his own. For example,
you know those biker mags from the 70s (maybe they're still being
published, I don't know) where they'd print pictures that biker
dudes sent in of their girlfriends draped seductively over
motorcycles? Well, it was a thing. Anyway, in the mid-80s Prince
simply re-photographed a bunch of pages from those magazines.
Now they're hanging at the Walker. This extreme appropriation is, of
course, scandalous, and Prince has been involved in plenty of
litigation. (Brooke Shields is bizarrely involved!) Even the
title of Prince’s current exhibition, Spiritual America, is
appropriated from a photograph by the twentieth-century
photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

As for me, I guess his work leaves me pretty cold. But it sure does
create interesting questions about authorship and originality, and it
was fun to see contemporary work that is obviously influenced by
many of the art movements I care about: Dada, Surrealism,
Conceptualism, Pop.

Still, though.


Post a Comment