3 More

Untitled (Car Hood)

Untitled (Car Hood)
acrylic, wood, steel, fiberglass and Bondo
64 ¾ x 54 ½ x 16 in. (164.5 x 138.4 x 40.6 cm.)
Executed in 2008.
Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2014
New York, Gagosian Gallery, Richard Prince: Hoods, May-June 2022.

Brought to you by

Allison Immergut
Allison Immergut Associate Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Richard Prince's artistic journey is a captivating exploration of American popular culture, defined by the distinct chapters of his Cowboys and Hood series. Amidst the backdrop of the 1980s, a decade marked by transformative cultural shifts, Prince ascended to prominence within the vibrant scene of the New York art scene. He soon became a prominent force of the Pictures Generation alongside Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger, a collective of artists renowned for their audacious reimagining of American sub-culture and the remnants of visual debris. In this era, Prince etched his name among the vanguard, emerging as a trailblazer whose work challenged boundaries, inviting viewers to traverse the realms of appropriation, interpretation, and profound cultural reflection.

Prince's artistic evolution took a new turn in the late 1980s with the creation of the Hood series. This phase represents a transition from two-dimensional imagery to a three-dimensional exploration of American culture. In this series, Prince employed actual muscle car hoods as his canvases by hiring body shops to prepare and paint the car hoods. However, as his artistic process evolved, he took on the task of applying automotive body filler Bondo, meticulously sanding, and personally hand-painting the hoods himself. The car hood series symbolizes America's love affair with automobiles, nostalgia for muscle cars, and the allure of speed and escape.

Prince fit these ready-made car hoods into his appropriation tactics, once remarking, “It was the perfect thing to paint. Great size. Great subtext. Great reality. Great thing that actually got painted out there, out there in real life. I mean I didn’t have to make this shit up. It was there. Teenagers knew it. It got 'teen-aged.'” Primed. Flaked. Stripped. Bondo-ed. Lacquered. Nine coats. Sprayed. Numbered. Advertised on. Raced. Fucking Steve McQueened” (R. Prince quoted in: N. Spector, Richard Prince, New York, 2007, p. 43).
Richard Prince's Untitled (Car Hood) immediately captivates the viewer with its striking visual composition. The artwork's arrangement bears a resemblance to the intricate and three-dimensional industrial aesthetics often associated with Lee Bontecou's creations. At its core, we find eight metal tubes separate into groups of two that mimic the aesthetics of a car engine, or the funnels of a ship creating a visually arresting and unconventional arrangement. This central element, akin to the iron with nails in Man Ray's classic readymade, Cadeau, commands attention and challenges our expectations of an everyday object. The surface of the car hood appears to be oxidized, evoking a sense of nostalgia.

Unlike other works in the series that feature more vibrant colors, Untitled (Car Hood) primarily employs a palette of blacks and greys. This choice sets it apart, creating a distinct visual identity within the series. The central metal tubes, like components of a machine, infuse the piece with a dynamic energy that is both visually captivating and conceptually intriguing. The central piece, resembling an industrial ship sailing in a dark but calm sea, serves as a metaphorical statement. It suggests a sense of journey and transformation, mirroring Prince's overarching theme of repurposing and reimagining objects. This central composition's form and placement evoke the idea of change and metamorphosis, aligning with Prince's exploration of how everyday objects can be transformed into symbols of artistic significance. It speaks to his ability to infuse his work with layers of meaning, encouraging viewers to contemplate the shifts that can occur through creative reinterpretation.
Rauschenberg's Bed serves as an early example of how artists like Prince challenge the traditional boundaries of art through appropriation. In Bed, Rauschenberg took his own bedding and transformed it into an artwork by adding elements like paint and other materials. This act of appropriation and recontextualization disrupted conventional notions of art, blurring the lines between the everyday and the artistic. Returning to the Hood series, Prince's approach is distinct in that he appropriates a symbol of American mass culture—the car—inviting viewers to reflect on the broader cultural and social significance of this object. The associations with cars evoke images of vast landscapes stretching toward an ever-elusive horizon, invoking themes of romance, death, speed, youth, and glamour—elements central to 1980s American popular culture.

More from Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale

View All
View All