Through an undeniable sense of provocation and raw sexual potency, Prince vigorously re-contextualises such gendered issues for a contemporary audience. The notions of consumption, desire and eroticism intrinsic to Prince’s Girlfriends series is undoubtedly reminiscent of Tom Wesselmann’s Great American Nude series, which similarly visualises the empowered American libido and the notion of sex in a profoundly consumer society. Yet of Prince’s work, writer and curator Carol Squiers crucially asserts, "the women he portrays posit themselves as outlaws and individualists. But, ironically, the way they attain outlaw status most often is by displacing their sexuality for men to admire. So, when the biker chicks go riding off into the sunset, they’re topless on a Harley Davidson. The women Prince chooses never achieve the seamless images of movie stars or fashion models; there’s something smutty and disreputable about them, they remain a patch-work of wishes and desires” (Carol Squiers, ‘Is Richard Prince a Feminist’, Art in America, November 1993, online). Whether the women depicted in Untitled are deflecting unwelcome stares or inwardly musing, Prince’s photographs ultimately implicate three parties: the viewer, the reclining, topless girls, and the artist himself. Together they participate in a complex performance of gazes that operates within a largely invented code of masculine idealism and pioneering Americanism that dates back to the Nineteenth-Century. Indeed, Untitled conveys the sexually charged imagery and raw emotion inherent to Post-War America, establishing Prince as the ultimate provocateur and undoubtedly one of the greatest artists of his generation.
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