Richard Prince: Spiritual America
Post #1232 • September 18, 2008, 11:07 AM • 71 Comments
Minneapolis, MN - It should have been obvious by 1980 at the latest that we can place any object whatsoever into an art context and find meaning in it. This is how appropriation and other urinations on the wall of art enjoy their meager success. The reconstituted Marlboro Man photos by Richard Prince, for instance, are said by some alleged expert to question the role of authenticity in art, and then people act as if this power is received rather than granted, an inherent quality rather than a vaunted one. Of course, if we wanted to question authenticity in a manner that would produce an answer, we would put some forged Princes on the market and watch the aggrieved parties speed-dial their lawyers.
Like the musician of the same name, and with equal profundity, Prince's personality figures heavily into appreciation of his work, a supposedly badass type fascinated with bawdy jokes, cowboys, muscle cars, and pulp novels. But the more the wall labels of Richard Prince: Spiritual America described his interests, the more he looked like a failed version of Quentin Tarantino, turning out works that aspire to entertaining brutishness but succeed only as armchair exercises in artistic rebellion. Looking for respite from the deluge of ironic quotation, one finds his car hoods, mounted onto forms that lets them hang square on the wall, and painted a satiny, uniform color that makes them look like an urban version of something by Ellsworth Kelly. These aren't terrible, at least. But his latest paintings lift chops from de Kooning's women and apply them hamfistedly to figures excerpted from porn. A barometer of the dessication lies in a nearby vitrine containing a sketchbook, in which Prince has doodled Gene Simmons's facepaint onto one of de Kooning's earlier, delicate portrait drawings. This isn't so much badass as sadass.