215
215
Richard Prince
UNTITLED (COWBOY)
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 310,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
215
Richard Prince
UNTITLED (COWBOY)
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 310,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Curated

|
New York

Richard Prince
B.1949
UNTITLED (COWBOY)
signed, dated 1982 and numbered 2/2 on the reverse
Ektacolor photograph
Image: 23 3/8 by 15 3/4 in. 51.7 by 40 cm.
Sheet: 24 by 20 in. 61 by 50.8 cm.
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Provenance

Private Collection
Skarstedt Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exhibited

New York, Baskerville + Watson, Richard Prince, October - November 1983 (another example exhibited)
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Dusseldorf, Kunstverein; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Richard Prince, May 1992 - November 1993, p. 98, illustrated in color

Literature

Exh. Cat., Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Richard Prince: Photographs, 2002, p. 75, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

In 1974, Richard Prince was working the night shift for Time-Life magazine and clipping editorials to assist the staff writers’ research. He found himself drawn to the leftover advertisements and the familiarity of their imagery which he often took for granted. He began re-photographing the found advertisements through his own inquisitorial lens and removing tag lines and slogans. By appropriating the image, Prince not only challenges the nature of photography and authorship, but more importantly deconstructs and interrogates romanticized images that have shaped the American identity. The archetypal symbol of the all-American male – the cowboy – sits comfortably beside his horse to survey the terrain from underneath his wide-brimmed Stetson. Mythologized, glamorized and proliferated by Hollywood films and advertising campaigns, the stereotype of ideal masculinity in the form of the strong and lonesome cowboy became a carefully marketed icon readily available for consumption by the American collective imagination. A picture of John Wayne-esque masculinity, Prince’s re-framing of the Marlboro campaign is nothing short of cinematic.

This work was created at a crucial time when the Marlboro’s advertising campaign of the cowboy had already been abandoned. Throughout the 1980s, drugs, alcohol and sex had become targets for polemical self-reproach following an increasing climate of anti-smoking campaigns and health scares: at the heart of the anti-smoking controversy was the iconic Marlboro Man. Seeking to distance America’s ostensibly wholesome mythology from the increasingly negative connotations of smoking, Marlboro relinquished what is still considered by many today to be the most powerful advertising campaign in history. Re-photographed by Prince, the immensely potent image of the cowboy as a nostalgic, innocent and rugged projected cultural self-image is unveiled as both powerfully seductive and profoundly inauthentic. Founded in the excesses and opulence of a decade devoted to materialism and illusion, Untitled (Cowboy) delivers a scrutiny of our culture’s increasing attraction to staged glossy spectacle over authentic lived experience, and epitomizes Prince’s utterly ground-breaking practice of appropriation.

Along with his contemporaries from the Pictures Generation of the 70s and 80s, Prince belonged to a disillusioned group of young American artists who rose to prominence in an image-saturated, highly commercialized culture. Faced with an abundance of pre-existing pictures, Prince “never thought of making anything new.” (Richard Prince in Carl Haenlein, ed., Richard Prince, Photographs, 1977-1993, Hannover, 1994, p. 32) His relation to these image-readymades vacillates between Warholian fascination with pop-culture and criticism of the myths they propagate. Re-photographed and scrutinized by Prince, the immensely potent image of the cowboy as a nostalgic, innocent and rugged projected cultural self-image is unveiled as a finely tuned-construct and yet remains extraordinarily powerful and utterly irresistible.

Contemporary Curated

|
New York