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Untitled (Kate #3)

Untitled (Kate #3)
signed, titled and dated 'R. Prince 2007 Untitled (KATE 3)' (on the reverse)
acrylic and printed paper collage on canvas
72 x 80 in. (182.9 x 203.2 cm.)
Executed in 2007.
Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Special Notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Rachael White Young
Rachael White Young Associate Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

Lot essay

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.

If such investigation sounds familiar, it may be because Prince embodies the contemporary iteration of his predecessor icon-chaser Andy Warhol. While Warhol’s import lay distinctly in his seriality, reminiscent of a machine pumping out star power, Prince’s cache resides solely in his uniqueness, essentially jamming the assembly line with disruptive combinations. Though both artists operated on and out of their surrounding milieu, Warhol elevated the quotidian, while Prince consumes and castigates it. Because of Andy then, Richard now can: “Andy and I have the same birthday, August 6, and we used to go to the same dentist. I remember running into him in the waiting room. I didn’t shoot him; I said, ‘Hi, I’m Richard.’ He said, ‘Hi, I’m Andy.’ And we shook hands” (R. Prince, “My Warhol,” in Artforum, vol. 43, no. 2, October 2004). An electric handshake, no doubt, as currents of the past coursed through the commentator of present-day and back again.

Thus, armed with an understanding of the power of the repetitive image, Prince proceeds to interrogate both the niche and mainstream in his selective posits, challenging the persisting memory of fad versus future. While Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone has recently enjoyed a resurgence, its 2007 presence was arguably less visible; Ed Sanders’s boho underground haven for authors, artists and activists fell victim to the whims of a changing New York City; The Godfather franchise, on the other hand, has since installed itself as a bulwark of popular imagination. What, and who, lasts and why? Who decides? Inasmuch as Prince leaves these more existential questions up to his audience, it might not be too much of a stretch to claim that Prince himself is at least a part of the answer.

Lot Essay Header Image: Present lot illustrated (detail).

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