Who Are You Following, Richard Prince?

Main image via Gagosian Gallery

Seeing Richard Prince’s latest exhibition “New Portraits” makes you think about a lot of things: exposure, internet presence, identity, artistic ownership, and the ever so wicked six degrees of separation city kids experience when they drop names left and right at art gallery openings, fashion parties, and, yes, within their own Instagram accounts. 

As an appropriation artist, Richard Prince certainly knows how to reconfigure and distort, often manipulating what we feel and yet what see or maybe even who you know. As I spied all the canvased grams, the occasional music video star, downtown musician, or model blew up before my eyes magnified like I had never seen before (pixelated and massive). (I wonder what Kay Kasperhauser’s parents would think of that photo with her legs spread? Oh, well. It’s a Richard Prince show.) It’s the proportions (167 x 123.8 cm) of these ink jetted canvases that bewilder you as if blurry shrines have been constructed. 

Take a photo on your phone and where does it go? It either goes into your iCloud, your iPhoto, or your social media or, basically, the public realm. After that iCloud scare, perhaps people will start using it more just to get attention? Then, again, Andy Warhol couldn’t have been more politically correct when he prophesied that everyone (Gen X? Gen Y?) would be famous for fifteen minutes. What is fame, anyways?

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A snapshot I took on my iPhone of RichardPrince4 snapshotting my own photo that I had taken here for Blackbook — You want a puff, Richard Prince?

I hadn’t had a clue of Richard’s exhibition until my own thirsty curiosity struck as fast as an Instagram notification. Wait, hold on. Richardprince4 liked my photo or wait- Hold on. Isn’t Richard Prince that one famous artist? I forget what pieces he’s done. Does that make me not in the scene? I know he’s famous but have I ever been to a Richard Prince exhibition? When fame merges with local celebrity, the end results typically create a conversation between the tastemakers and the “followers” (no pun intended). A debate has been created and, thus, Richard Prince you have succeeded. But what if someone took a photo of a photo and paradoxically curated a show of your life or just a mere image you wanted to project for others to see? Would that offend you? Or would you be flattered?

“New Portraits” makes me reminisce upon older times when texting became the norm for young 14 year olds circa 2006. It was the Motorola Razor that became a recurring object in every peer of mine’s hands and we were only in middle school. When a text arrived, you showed it to your friends. You were reading the text envisioning what consequences or imagery it may provoke. Fast forward to present day, iPhones are in the hands of younger children. For most young subjects Prince has portrayed, they too might remember when words were taken out of context and their middle school crushes demolished their feelings via text. Just think what we can do today with both word and image. I suppose press is press but just be careful what you post. You don’t want Instashame but, at the same time, most want Instafame.

Richard Prince’s “New Portraits,” on view at Gagosian Gallery, closes in about a week (October 25th). Go see it now, I urge you.

What a small world we live in…..

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