Born 1949, Panama Canal Zone
Lives and works in Rensselaerville, upstate New York
Richard Prince came to prominence in the 1980s through his celebrated series of works such as Cowboys, Jokes and Hoods, which appropriate images from magazines, popular culture and pulp fiction to create new photographs, sculptures and paintings that respond to ideas about American identity and consumerism. These works have been critical in challenging ideas of authorship and raising questions about the value of the ‘unique’ artwork and explore the relationship between image and language, which has been a key investigation for many conceptual artists. Spoken of as being iconoclastic and redefining authorship, as well as raising questions about authenticity and the uniqueness of an art work, Richard Prince’s appropriated images taken from magazines, popular culture and pulp fiction follow in the wake of Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes. Yet it is hard to tell whether they are, in fact, a critique of consumerist culture or simply a symptom of it.
Richard Princes’ passion for cars means that right beside his painting and photography studios in upstate New York is a “body shop”, where his collection of car bonnets are turned into art. Bonnets as both sculptures and painting abound here, painted in pale greys and greens. The car bonnets extend Richard Prince’s interest in the relationship between the image and object, applying an archetypal symbol of American culture, that of the powerful gas guzzling automobile, and turning it through the application of body filler and sanding into a subtle and aestheticised object made to hang on a gallery wall. In Richard Prince’s vision and the hands of his technicians, one of the dinosaurs of a bloated consumer culture becomes the source of a contemplative language in which mass production is refined to the highest degree.