Richard Prince, the lord of repurposing other people’s artwork, has done it again. I’ve written about his work a couple times before (here, and here) but this time, Prince took Instagram photos, removed the captions, changed the comments, blew up the images to six feet, and managed to sell them for $90,000 through the Gagosian Gallery at the Frieze Art Fair in New York (detailed story by Washington Post here). Although I’ve supported Prince in the past and am a strong advocate against applying copyright for artistic purposes, I have to admit that I am hugely disappointed in this current endeavor. Prince’s past work involved at least some manipulation to the photographs with cut-outs, saturation changes, and cropping (among others). With this one though, he made no changes to the photographs, just changed the accompanying text.
As somewhat of a counter-move, Missy Suicide, one of the Instagram users whose image was repurposed by Prince, is selling her prints for $90 and donating proceeds to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the only Richard Prince pieces that I really love are those in his “joke” series. These paintings comprise of a joke (mostly containing lewd or impolite material) on a huge canvas. Aside from the often perverse content, they are beautiful artifications of typography.
On a side note, I think anything that is made in a large scale – whether it be a photograph or a painting- automatically looks super impressive and becomes “art”.