Dethroning Prince

Richard Prince, “The Fountainhead,” 2010, inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 86 x 92 1/2″
Richard Prince, “The Moon,” 2007, inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 81 1/2 x 100″

Richard Prince installation view at Gagosian.
 Richard Prince installation at Gagosian.

In the NYTimes Ken Johnson contributes a crushing review of Richard Prince’s new paintings at Gagosian. “Death and transcendence always have been the pole stars of Richard Prince�s art. His photographs of cowboys in gorgeous landscapes pirated from Marlboro ads are shadowed by lung cancer and heart disease. The pictures of biker molls swing between erotic love and soul-killing misogyny. The joke paintings? They career from human comedy to mind-numbing vulgarity. The muscle cars? From chariots of the gods to profane vehicles of male vanity and ecological destruction.

“The formula continues in ‘Tiffany Paintings,’ his new, utterly predictable and crushingly obvious series of canvases at Gagosian Gallery. Each medium-large painting has a copy of a Tiffany jewelry ad from The New York Times silk-screened in the upper right corner like a postage stamp. The rest is covered by a generic field of sensuously brushed, subtly modulated color evoking tension between cosmic space and the raw materialism of paint. Looking closely, you discover that the paint thins out in places to reveal underlying obituaries from The Times, mostly of famous artists: the Pop artist Tom Wesselmann, the young bohemian Dash Snow, the architect Charles Gwathmey, Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd and others. Also there are articles about worldly problems like AIDS and war…

“A bottom-trolling mandarin and collector of low-brow memes, Mr. Prince reflects mockingly on the futility of rebellion in a society that turns every expression of the young and the restless into a fungible commodity. He delights in popular idiocy � O.K., who doesn�t? � but his mean, superficial skimming of demotic culture and his knee-jerk, though sometimes warranted, contempt for the pretensions of fine art make Jeff Koons seem like a paragon of spiritual generosity.” 

Richard Prince: Tiffany Paintings,” Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY. Through May 19, 2010.


  1. "…make Jeff Koons seem like…"

  2. Gee, what does he say when he really dislikes the painter? I don't much care for Richard Prince and I have never liked his "borrowings" but the subtle color-field areas of the paintings reminded of Frankenthaler. Shows how little I know.

  3. True Prince maybe mysogynistic at times and yes vulgar….but isn't his art basically a replay of american pop culture and it's societal flaws. Isn't this what makes him such an artistic genious…Who else swindles right out from under us a flash of the realities of our own desires better? He may have concocted a formula that mr. johnson doesn't like….but the recipe is delicious and doesn't fail.

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