"The Cowboy Series is the work with which Prince is most usually associated. Taken from the popular Marlboro cigarette advertising campaign, a typical art work from the series might be an image of one or more cowboys--the cowboy's faces partially shadowed by a Stetson--riding on horseback in a desert or prairie setting.
The image of the cowboy is so familiar in American iconology that it has become almost invisible through its normality. And yet the cowboy is also the most sacred and masklike of cultural figures. In both a geographical and cultural sense, a cowboy is an image of endurance itself, a stereotypical symbol of American cinema. He is simultaneously the wanderer and the mythological symbol of social mobility. Even today, the image of the cowboy has not lost its luster.
One might surmise from this that, of all of Prince's art, the Cowboy works are Prince's own mask--his self-portrait as a regular guy. In other words, as embodiments of "untruth," they are the most truthful. Or, as Prince might say, they are the most "convincing"; picture-perfect dissimulations." (J. Lewis, et. al., Richard Prince, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1992, p. 95).