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    Sale 7619

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale

    21 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 370

    Richard Prince (b. 1949)

    Untitled (Cowboys)

    Price Realised  


    Richard Prince (b. 1949)
    Untitled (Cowboys)
    signed, dated and numbered 'R Prince 1983 ap' (on the lower margin)
    Ektacolor print
    8 x 10in. (20.3 x 25.4cm.)
    Executed in 1983, this work is the artist proof from an edition of two plus one artist proof

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    "Normalcy as special effect' is how Richard Prince described his series of 'Cowboy' works which he began in 1980 and continued throughout the decade. Rephotographed images of cigarette adverts, Prince's Cowboy series explores the myth of the "Marlboro Man" at the very point in history when the cigarette company itself had been forced to abandon him as a viable image for their product.

    Using the very same images as those used in the advertisements, but devoid of the texts, these memorable images of the Cowboy - a fictitious but instantly recogniseable cultural icon - challenge the viewer's attitudes to both the media and to one of America's favourite images of itself. In particular, what clearly interested Prince in the making of this important series of works is the fact that the Cowboy - that lone self-reliant hero of the West - had now become a taboo image, because of his association with the tobacco industry. By appropriating the imagery, removing the offending text, and returning the image to the environment of the art gallery, Prince reclaims the archetype while at the same time throwing it open to question and re-evaluation.

    In doing so, Prince also reveals how the landscape of our modern lives is window-dressed with such artifice and exposes the shallowness much of the imagery and ideology around us. Not only is the language of advertising a language of manipulative lies, Prince shows us, but so are the collective dreams and ideals to which it appeals. In revealing the artifice of our modern culture in such a direct way, appropriating its imagery and deconstructing its language by using its own tools against it so to speak, Prince also opens art and its practice to the same arena of inspection and doubt.

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    Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York.
    Anon. sale, Phillips de Pury & Company New York, 14 March 2006, lot 302.
    Acquired at the above sale by the previous owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Representing the '80s, exh. cat., New York, Baskerville & Watson, October-November 1984 (another from the edition illustrated, unpaged).
    J. Rian, "Social Science Fiction: An Interview with Richard Prince" in Art in America, March 1987 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 94).
    R. Brooks, J. Rian and L. Sante, Richard Prince, New York 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 58).


    Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Richard Prince. Photographs, December 2001-February 2002 (another from the edition exhibited).