Richard Prince: the Opportunist, a controversial exhibition

If Richard Prince’s Instagram photos are comparable to Reality TV, there is not much to stress about the shallow waters of contemporary art…

We all remember the essay by Rosalind Krauss condemning originality and naming Sherrie Levine one of the greatest examples of art in its postmodernist era.

Courtesy: Collector Daily
Courtesy: Collector Daily

For the forgetful, here is a quick recap: Sherrie Levine re-photographed photos from prominent photographers such as Walker Evans. After shooting an identical copy of the famous portraits she printed them, named them “After Walker Evans,” and exhibited them in several galleries and museum walls. Regardless of the controversy that bubbled after the execution of this piece in 1981, the photos are Levine’s and a point regarding originality and appropriation was made.

Courtesy: Collector Daily
Courtesy: Collector Daily

Today, artists have taken Levine’s influence seriously, which was clearly seen in the scandalous Instagram portraits done by Richard Prince. Prince’s New Portraits are screen shots straight out of the Instagram app of a variety of different users. The users are mostly female and appear semi-nude and for each caption, Prince makes a kinky comment.

Courtesy: Collector Daily
Courtesy: Collector Daily

“The piece navigates between the realms of digital reality and its representation in the actual world”

These photos are inkjet prints on large canvases of someone else’s Instagram feed; it is not hard to imagine why this piece is hated by many. Jerry Saltz called Prince a genius and defended his notion by saying the piece navigates between the realms of digital reality and its representation in the actual world and insists these portraits are visually literate. These works were sold for as much as $100,000 during this year’s Frieze Art Fair in New York City.

Courtesy: Collector Daily
Richard Prince exhibition | Courtesy: Collector Daily

I agree with Saltz, Prince is a clever businessman; but I am not so sure if there is more to these works beyond a name and scandal. Those two carry a lot of weight in this decade. Hence, Kardashian. If Richard Prince’s Instagram photos are comparable to Reality TV, there is not much to stress about the shallow waters of Contemporary Art.


Written by Nicole Chaput

Lucero

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