Richard Prince's Spiritual America collection is the most comprehensive exploration into the celebrity cult phenomena of the Marlboro Men and tawdry nurses from cigarette advertisements. Prince's cowboys portray twentieth century stereotypes of ideal American masculinity. He does so through rephotographing and appropriating the original Marlboro ads. The act of rephotographing the ad questions the authenticity of the original advertisement, the media, and the social values portrayed within (Especially considering the nature of the ads in the first place).
This rephotograph, Untitled (Cowboy) from 1989, broke world auction records for the sale of any photograph, selling for $1.248million at Christies in New York in 2005. Arguably, this makes Prince the most successful photographer alive. This thus begs the question of success. Personally, the cost of the art is rather irrelevant to me, probably because I can only afford to gawk at them hanging in galleries, but if the art speaks to me, like most of Prince's work does, then I consider it successful.
On the back of the offset heart lithograph above, Prince inscribed "For the Val Day What I Do". I like this. It reminds me of an oversized valentines card that I was given this year.
For the sake of my blog somehow becoming a solely photography blog, I am not including his paintings or other media. What a shame. Check out his newest show at www.gagosian.com.
Images from www.phillipsdepury.com and www.metmuseum.org