Richard Prince


American, 1949 –

Richard Prince was born in 1949 Panama Canal Zone.  He attend Nasson College in Maine and then moved to New York where he worked for Time, Inc.  Early influences on Prince that lead him to become an artist was exposure to Jackson Pollack’s work and his work clipping articles at Time.  He liked the absolute ‘newness’ of what Pollack was doing.  At Time, his job allowed him to study advertisements that were left after clipping articles for staff writers.  The ads made him more aware of cliches and stereotypes in our culture.   This was a driving force in his early artworks.

Artist Richard Prince

Richard Prince in 1988. Photo: Barbara Gladstone.

He became a leader in the movement of “Appropriation Art” in the 1980s.  Appropriation artists copy recognizable imagery, like that found in advertisements, with the intention that the viewer will recognize the images and re-examine them with the artist’s new context.  Richard Prince likes to use iconic cultural symbols, such as a cowboy, a sexy nurse, biker girls and celebrities or fashion models.  Early works were done by re-photographing ads or using them in collages.  Richard Prince has also explored other media to create his art such as painting, digital manipulation and ready-made materials.

Prince created his first Joke piece in 1985.  The first Joke works were hand written pieces on a monochromatic background, but evolved to be more substantial by including imagery.  More recent work includes a node to more traditional genres of figurative works.  These pieces were done with pornographic ink-jet prints that he painted over in the style of Willem de Kooning.  In 2014, Richard Prince created a body of work using images found on Instagram.

His first solo exhibition was at Artists Space in New York in 1980. Since then, Richard Prince has had numerous museum survey exhibitions.  He has developed a number of strategies that call into question the authorship or ownership of artistic imagery. Often creating controversy, he continues to be one of the most provocative artists working today.