American painter and photographer Richard Prince is famous for his “rephotographs”: reappropriating magazine advertisements for jewellery, furniture, fashion and cigarettes by cropping, removing ad copy from the images, re-shooting black and white
American painter and photographer Richard Prince is famous for his “rephotographs”: reappropriating magazine advertisements for jewellery, furniture, fashion and cigarettes by cropping, removing ad copy from the images, re-shooting black and white images in colour film, and arranging them in generic groups. Joining a host of 1980s appropriation artists – Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine and Cindy Sherman – Prince creates unique works of art from existing imagery. His prominent image Unitled (Cowboy) (1989), a “rephotograph” of an photograph by Sam Abdell and appropriated from from a cigarette advertisement, was the first “rephotograph” to raise over $1 million at a Christie’s auction in New York in 2005.
Questioning authorship, ownership, mass media and consumerism, Prince has been redefining the artistic act in this way since the late 1970s. This month for the first time in Asia, he will be presenting his work at the Gagosian Gallery Hong Kong. Themed around the role and representation of women many of the exhibits portray popular depictions of feminine types: the vacant fashion model, the naughty nurse and the bold biker girl. Through his exploration of gender and popular culture Prince’s images raise questions about stereotypes and erotic appeal. In Untitled (Fashion) (1980-82) the viewer is presented with unattainable obsessions – the yearning for model perfection and the desire for luxury products. (Four Women with Their Backs to the Camera) (1980) presents woman as a commodity – as models from different fashion sources are pictured stripped of their identifying copy, in a repeated pattern. In Untitled (Gilfriend) (2008) a bikini clad girl stretches out over a motorbike representing the male idealised view of perfection and fantasy.
Both content rich and aesthetic opus Prince’s works creates an intriguing snapshot of our consumerist time. As the Asian market continues to grow, with their limitless resources for art, the Gagosian Gallery Hong Kong serves as the perfect host for an artist like Richard Prince.
Richard Prince runs until July 16 at Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong
Text by Lucia Davies