Richard Prince at Sadie Coles HQ
The new Richard Prince show at Sadie Coles HQ is a reprisal of the artist’s work with cartoons, depicting nudists, an idea perhaps connected to his Hippie Drawings and Jokes and Cartoons.
Each painting is a collage with large cartoons of mostly young, big-breasted women and older men who seem to be pursuing them. Text quotes on each create context: “My philosophy, Mr Mathews, is to love everyone, not make love to everyone”, “I just thought it was a lot more fun when we were a ménage a trois”, “Personally I don’t care that much for the sun, I just like to run around naked”, “I feel so organic”. In one a man’s head is on a woman’s lap beneath her chest, captioned: “Can’t you find a shady nook somewhere else Mr. Martinez?”
One bright colour dominates each work respectively: pink, green, purple, orange, blue, turquoise, and yellow. What appear to be Picasso-like African cave drawings, in a graffiti style, with voyeuristic grinning faces, are overlaid, and include hats and spiral scribbles.
New York artist Richard Prince recycles ideas from American pop culture by using found images and recreating collages of these, exploring societal clichés. He has encountered a fair amount of controversy because most of his pieces often appropriate others’ work (sometimes resulting in lawsuits). A famous example is his Cowboy series with its rephotographed Marlboro cigarette ads.
In this latest series we can’t be sure of the sources as no comments are yet available about these works by the artist, although Prince has stated:
Jokes and cartoons are part of any mainstream magazine. Especially magazines like the New Yorker or Playboy. They’re right up there with the editorial and advertisements and table of contents and letters to the editors. They’re part of the layout, part of the “sights” and “gags.” Sometimes they’re political; sometimes they just make fun of everyday life.
Price’s exhibition provides an amusing comment on and nostalgia for hippie motifs as well as popular culture’s hypocrisy in its prudishness and simultaneous exploitation of sex, and the voyeurism surrounding it. Bright colours reflect society’s attraction to the obvious, flavours of the moment. The content is at once very adult and very childlike. The show is an interesting wry observation of society, is visually compelling, and each work contains enough information to summon significant observation.
Richard Prince is at Sadie Coles HQ from 12th April until 18th June 2016, for further information visit here.