Richard Prince’s Untitled (Angie Dickinson) and Untitled (Misty Regan) belong to a series of pictures created in the mid-1980s in which the artist appropriated images from erotic movies, subsequently adding text based elements. Gleaned from Brian De Palma’s Dress to Kill (1980), the image in Angie Dickinson refers to the brutal murder of the actress – slashed in an elevator – as elucidated by the printed text above (‘Angie Dickinson pays for her sins in Dress to Kill’). Prince’s attention in Misty Regan is transferred to the actress’s expression of sexual excitement in a close-up from one of Regan’s erotic scenes from the eighties. It was during this decade that the artist focused on cinema as a ready-made source for his art and a subject for his writings. In this regard, in 1985 Prince wrote Anyone Who is Anyone, a short fictional story in which the main character is obsessed with cinema: ‘For one year he rented movies – VCR videos - and watched them on a twenty-five-inch colour Sony monitor at her apartment. He watched the movies alone, late at night after she had gone to bed. He watched two-hundred-and-seventy-five movies that year’ (R. Prince, ‘Anyone Who Is Anyone’, reproduced in R. Brooks, J. Rian and L. Sante, Richard Prince, London 2003, p. 122).
A painter and sculptor, Richard Prince is best known as one of the foremost pioneers of cultural appropriation. His practice, typically consisting of the re-contextualisation of images drawn from popular culture, has been linked to the Pictures Generation, a group of artists including Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine and Robert Longo, among others, who broke new ground in the mid-1970s by using appropriated photographic images in order to question the nature of contemporary image-making. Yet, although both Angie Dickinson and Misty Regan perfectly exemplify such a practice, they also belong to an unusual and rare body of work within Richard Prince’s oeuvre due to the artist’s use of films – instead of photographs – as source images.