Richard Prince’s controversial cowboy pictures go on view at LACMA in Los Angeles.
In the mid-1970s Richard Prince was an aspiring artist working in Time magazine’s tear sheet department, where he would frequently come across advertisements featuring photographs of products and models. Prince eventually took the advertisements and photographed them, often only altering the framing of the original images.
His most famous series, Untitled (cowboy), featured images from Marlboro cigarette ads and showed cowboys chasing down horses and cattle in highcountry pastures. Prince’s artistic methods, sometimes called “rephotographing,” touched off a firestorm of controversy that centered on the nature of art, the conventional meanings and limits of photography, and art ownership.
The artist is once again revisiting Untitled (cowboy) for new work created in 2015 and 2016, work that will be the focus of a new exhibition, Richard Prince: Untitled (cowboy) now open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Prince is rephotographing images from his 1980s and 1990s cowboys series but using more contemporary technology.
“In contrast to this studiobased manipulation for the
2013 series Untitled (original cowboy), Prince went to Utah, seeking out quintessential viewpoints established by legions of photographers—tourists and artists alike—who preceded him,” according to the museum. “Extending his interrogation of this particular American protagonist into the era of Instagram, Prince demonstrates that the stakes around originality, appropriation, and truth in advertising are as high as ever.” The exhibition will be on view at LACMA through March 25.