The Peace Eye. The Death of Michael Corleone. Stories from the Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. Slightly intelligible answers to Richard Prince’s (b. 1949) scattershot questions, capturing the avant-garde underbelly roots grown and nurtured in 1960s America. Mining the media for his creative fodder, Prince couples these esoteric inquiries with a background of collaged Kate Mosses, the English supermodel who rose to fame in the mid-1990s and has since proven a potent muse for the artist, in Untitled (Kate #3) (2007). In its almost six-feet by over six-feet glory, this example grandly subverts the very commercial imagery that underpins the picture, crafting a cutting comment on the cult of celebrity heralded by purveyors of Prince’s culture.
Rather than glamorizing Moss, as Prince has done on other occasions including a 2019 cover collaboration for W Magazine, the artist instead cuts and pastes various publicity images in seemingly random order across the canvas, thus evoking the machismo of the Abstract Expressionists’ uninhibited gesture. This reduction of a supermodel lookbook to minor tesserae in an underlying mosaic forces attention towards the words dominating the composition, which Prince has overlaid in nine measured rows of evenly stenciled text. Still, the supposed focal point cuts off abruptly at the final two letters, prioritizing aesthetic geometry over conveying a meaningful message in full. What, then, is Prince’s point, and how is he able to make it? The juxtaposition of an abstract style made famous in the 1950s with pillars of the popular zeitgeist in the 1960s with the defining visage of the 1990s can only imply Prince’s unwillingness to conform to any agreed-upon art historical trope in favor of his ongoing exploration of status, icon and the collective construction of recognition.