Richard Prince (b. 1949) is a key figure in Americas so-called Pictures Generation. In November, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
presents his work in the exhibition SAME MAN, the latest instalment in the Louisiana on Paper series. The artist turns images from pop, fan and consumer culture strange and seductive the commonplace as special effects, in the artist's own words.
In the 1970s, when an artist like Richard Prince had no desire to approach painting, photography and works on paper presented viable alternatives. Prince first made a name for himself on the New York art scene in the late 1970s with his now famous re-photographs. Nonetheless, working by hand on and with paper, he appears to have provided a shortcut to works on canvas and, later, actual painting. Prince, a master draftsman who would have thought it, and that it involves record sleeves, magazines and paperbacks?
The exhibitions title, SAME MAN, is a heads-up to the viewer in terms of Princes highly different expressions. It is him, even though he never sought to be identified by any particular look or style. Indeed, based solely on the work in this exhibition, dating from 1972 and till now, it would be impossible to form a clear image of the artist behind it.
Representing reality has always been Princes true intention, guiding his artistic decisions. Re-photographing ads for consumer goods, girls from biker magazines or the American man as defined by the Marlboro brand of cigarettes, Prince used his camera to swipe the image and open it up to the many forms of desire inherent in it, including his own. The artist highlights this non-fiction as an undercurrent in his work. As he puts it, he doesnt ask questions, he seeks answers and he never leaves any doubt about the prime importance of identity.
In 1984, when Prince officially started drawing, he again placed himself well outside of what most people would consider originality and the implied sincerity of handmade marks on paper: he copied cartoons, re-drawing them. As these classic cartoons from magazines like The New Yorker began overlapping, the words were emancipated into pure collage. Augmented by his own notations and even more jokes, an entire arsenal of expressions emerged from the artists hand, collages of sorts blazing a trail to vilified painting.
By way of example, the exhibition includes two of Princes Nurse paintings. From here, its a short jump to understanding his later exploration of classic artists like Picasso and De Kooning. In those series, too, its clear to see how everything in Princes hands turns into collage, and that this is not a new style. Prince is Prince, only different. Nor should it come as a surprise that, though born in 1949, he identified Instagram as a medium that invites addition and subtraction. SAME MAN.
SAME MAN is based on research in the artists extensive archives in Rensselaerville, NY, a few hours drive north of Manhattan. The exhibition features 89 works in all, including 60 on paper. All works are property of the artist.
Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue poster (in English and Danish) with texts by Nancy Spector, who organized the Prince retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2007, and the curator of this exhibition, Anders Kold.