533
533

PROPERTY FROM A PRESTIGIOUS PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Richard Prince
UNTITLED
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 680,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
533

PROPERTY FROM A PRESTIGIOUS PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Richard Prince
UNTITLED
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 680,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

Richard Prince
B. 1949
UNTITLED
signed and dated 2011 on the reverse; signed on a label affixed to the stretcher
acrylic and collage on canvas
80 by 120 in. 203.2 by 304.8 cm.
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Provenance

Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Brussels, Almine Rech Gallery, Richard Prince: The Fug, September - November 2011, pp. 116-117, 120 and 132, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Expanding 10 feet across the wall, Richard Prince's Untitled confronts the viewer on an environmental scale that resembles the iconic works of the Abstract Expressionists. The abstraction, however, is disrupted by the stenciled collection of letters in sans serif font in the foreground. Spanning across is a joke that reads, “THE WAY HE LOOKS IN THE MORNING! HE RAN AFTER THE GARBAGE MAN AND SAID, ‘AM I TOO LATE FOR THE GARBAGE?’ HE SAID, ‘NO JUMP IN.’” Camouflaged with painterly drips, this text is too large to absorb all at once. Upon closer inspection, beneath the layers of paint, it becomes obvious that the entire background is comprised of novel covers. A selection of cover art from the 1960s medical-romance novels was reproduced and collaged onto the canvas, after which layers of bold acrylic paint were gesturally applied, concealing details and partially revealing the central nurse protagonists. A close-up look reveals the book titles, such as Psychiatric Nurse, Nurse’s DilemmaHometown Nurse and more. The pictorial finesse of the original cover art is gone, yet a sense of seductive appeal remains. The resulting gridded collage borrows from found imageries, as well as the aesthetics of Jasper Johns’ iconic AlphabetsNumbers, and Maps series. Beyond this first impression of transcendent abstraction, a close inspection reveals the collaged chaos coyly arranged across the entire surface.

In the present work, Prince combined the Joke Paintings and the appropriation of found imagery, among two of his most important practices. In 1985, Prince began what would become his most recognized series of art, known as the Joke Paintings. Among his early works are handwritten jokes, which grew into more substantial pieces when he began to incorporate the jokes with bold text, color, and images. Prince’s jokes tend to meld seeming banality with satire, often poking fun at family, religion and his relationships with women. He culls his subject matter from the detritus of American media, finding inspiration and imagery in the blue-collar, consumer driven and image hungry products of our local television and pop-culture publications. Fashion, women, sex, cars, film and food advertisements are all inspiration for Prince’s subject matter. The artist toys with ideas of authorship and originality by re-contextualizing his visual icons and idioms. His works are filled with contradictions: intensely ironic but still sincere, mimetic but surprisingly original and consistently both banal and shocking.

At heart, Prince is an editor of images, borrowing and transforming through juxtaposition and manipulation to re-contextualize the familiar and banal. In 1974, Prince was working the nightshift for Time-Life magazines and clipping editorials to assist the staff-writer’s research. While dismantling text from thousands of advertisements, the artist noticed the endless patterns inherent in the detritus of American media. In Untitled, Prince extends his visual appropriation to medical-romance novels. Like the Warhol, Prince compels his viewers to consider the mechanics behind an increasingly image-dominated culture: our relationship to specific typologies, stereotypes, idealized notions of the everyday and our relationship to pictures themselves. Prince tests our definitions of art, commerce, and culture. Here, with a Duchampian impulse towards relocating the familiar, Prince de-contextualizes the joke and blows it up to a scale that makes the words all but illegible. There is a tension here between reading and seeing; it's almost impossible to decipher the joke itself; the text instead becomes a sort of glyph, something strange and pictorial. Prince creates new environments for text, unexpected two-dimensional habitats in which words are translated into images. "The joke paintings," Prince explained, "are abstract. Especially in Europe, if you can't speak English" (Steve Lafreniere, "Richard Prince talks to Steve Lafreniere – '80 Then – Interview", ArtForum, March 2003).

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York