25
25
Richard Prince
"WHAT A KID I WAS" (3 TIMES)
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,500,0004,500,000
LOT SOLD. 4,226,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
25
Richard Prince
"WHAT A KID I WAS" (3 TIMES)
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,500,0004,500,000
LOT SOLD. 4,226,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Richard Prince
B. 1949
"WHAT A KID I WAS" (3 TIMES)
signed, titled and dated 1989 on the overlap
acrylic and silkscreen ink on two joined canvases
overall: 96 1/4 x 75 in. 244.5 x 190.5 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York
Lucas Schoormans Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2004

Catalogue Note

Repeating the same joke three times down its verdant green surface in dazzling pink, Richard Prince’s "What a Kid I Was" (3 Times) from 1989 is an exceptional work from the seminal series of monochrome joke paintings that the artist produced between 1987 and the year of the present work. The triple repetition of the same anecdote emphasizes the notions of seriality, authorship, and mechanical reproduction that have been central to Prince’s output over the course of his career. Representing his inspired amalgamation of postmodern conceptual strategies and abstract painting with a resolutely Pop art twist, "What a Kid I Was" (3 Times) epitomizes Prince’s most celebrated body of work. Investigating the sensory and optical potential of words akin to his Pop Art predecessor Ed Ruscha, while following in the conceptual trickery of the notorious punster Marcel Duchamp, Richard Prince’s "What a Kid I Was" (3 Times) is dramatically striking, elegant, and most importantly hilarious.

Emerging amongst the appropriation artists of the 1980s, Richard Prince stood out for the distinctive coolness of his work. While many of the re-photographers of his generation were inspired by postmodern theories on authenticity and originality, Prince’s work simultaneously reflected a decidedly American cultural influence through his fascination with cowboys, bikers, cars, and lowbrow American humor. After his iconic series of cowboy photographs in the early 1980s, in which Prince explored his signature conceptual strategy of appropriating imagery from advertising whilst referring to archetypes of the American dream, he became intrigued by the incorporation of jokes into his works. Like the found sources that he used for his photographs, the artist appropriated the jokes from cartoon-strips, which he initially turned into hand-drawn copies on paper. Prince explained, “artists were casting sculptures in bronze, making huge paintings, talking about prices and clothes and cars and spending vast amounts of money. So I wrote jokes on little pieces of paper and sold them for $10 each.” (the artist cited in Exh. Cat., New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Richard Prince: Spiritual America, 2007, p. 37)

Following these initial hand-written jokes and subsequent works in which the cartoon images were silkscreened onto canvas, Prince soon embarked on a more radical approach in which all illustrations were entirely abolished. Daring anyone to take a one-liner for a serious work of art, Prince had started to assemble his jokes in a catalogue in 1985, which ultimately led to his iconic paintings, of which the present work is one of the earliest examples. If the artist’s decision to start painting was not radical enough after his earlier photographic work, Prince’s painted jokes – detached, witty, and matter-of-fact – were also the complete antithesis of the neo-expressionist painting that dominated the art world in the 1980s. Instead of the expressive, gestural application of paint that was so fashionable, Richard Prince silkscreened his jokes onto a flat, monochrome canvas. Similar to his re-photography of existing images, this approach removed the artist’s hand from the work. Despite this conceptual strategy, Prince nonetheless considered these works first and foremost as paintings. As he jokingly remarked, “the ‘Joke’ paintings are abstract. Especially in Europe, if you can’t speak English.” (the artist cited in Exh. Cat., Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Richard Prince: Canaries in the Coal Mine, 2006, p. 124)

"What a Kid I Was" (3 Times) confronts the viewer with a strangely puzzling juxtaposition of a minimalist canvas and painted words. Although this can be read as a reference to postmodern linguistic theory, the work also points to two quintessentially American features: hard-edge abstraction and popular humor. Cleverly subverting the clean and serious language of abstract painting, the jokes' amalgamation of low and high culture characterizes Prince’s most iconic work. Wittingly parodying gags from the popular vernacular, the artist has found a way of incorporating a difficult subject matter – humor – into a deeply serious and resolutely intellectual artistic practice.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York