Richard Prince uses the photographic medium to re-present images found in newspaper and magazine ads. They appear to be familiar although their context are obscure. The heads, hands and consumer objects are fragments of advertising and fashion photographs that have been severely cropped when rephotographed in black and white. The black and white photograph is then subtly manipulated and again rephotographed using color film that results in color tones that wash the surface of the final print. What was originally an unnoticed detail in a one-half to two-inch photograph is presented at a scale at least 25 times that size and sometimes as large as 40 x 60 inches. The enlarged photographs are shown singly or in series of three or four similar images, becoming gigantic cultural icons of once subliminal information. Prince selects images of the commodity culture and heightens their fetishized quality. The resulting work serves to identify the conventions of commercial photography and elucidate the methods used to deliver its message.
"The material formally appropriated was available to anyone who cared to use it. The fact that the material had possibly been observed or unconsciously collected by persons other than myself, in effect defined its desire and threat. It was this 'prior availability' that verified my fictional transformation and helped me cool down the reference to an observable reality." — Richard Prince, Menthol Pictures
"Richard Prince purloins the most frank and banal of advertising's images, which register, in the art context, as a kind of shock. But it is their rather brutal familiarity which ultimately makes them so strange. … Accepting as inevitable a complicity with these images, Prince shows them always to be invaded by such ghosts. By focusing on the commodity fetish, unsung the master tool of our time, his photos take on a Hitchcockian dimension…" — Douglas Crimp, "The Photographic Activity of Postmodernism," Multidisciplinary Aspects of Performance: Postmodernism, colloquium, Montreal
Richard Prince was born in 1940 in the Panama Canal Zone. He has lived in Boston and for the past five years in New York City. Hi work has been seen in one-person shows at Ellen Sragow Gallery, Artists Space, CEPA Gallery, Buffalo and Galerie Jollenbeck, Cologne. Prince has done window installations at the New Museum and Printed Matter Book Store. His work has recently been included in group shows in London at the Lisson Gallery and at the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. His work will be in Genoa, April 1981, in "Il Gergo Inquito" organized by Germano Celant.