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Richard Prince at Bibliotheque Nationale de France

April 21, 2011 by Kay

Richard Prince - American Prayer

Bibliothˬque Nationale de France

29th March - 26th June 2011

Richard Prince, Untitled (original), 2009
Original illustration and paperback book 34 x 35 inches (86.4 x 88.9 cm)
© Richard Prince, Photo by Rob McKeever, courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

After the Musée du Louvre and the Château de Versailles where Jan Fabre’s and Jeff Koons’ works were respectively presented, the BibliothÀ¨que Nationale de France also opts for contemporary creation, inviting the worldwide famous American artist, Richard Prince. Especially well-known for his cow boy photographs illustrating Marlboro advertising campaigns and for his series of 'nurse' paintings, the artist is the best at depicting the American fin de siÀ¨cle. This is the first monographic exhibition on Richard Prince organised in Paris.

The title 'Richard Prince – American Prayer' refers to Jim Morrison’s poem. The exhibition focuses on a feature of personality never presented before. Richard Prince is a passionate booklover and a collector of American pop culture and countercultures from the 50s’ to the 80s’. This artistic movement has inspired his work as photographer and painter. Thanks to a musical background - including works by Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground – and to his collaboration with the designer David Adjaye, Richard Prince portrays an American continent scoffing at its myths, introduced in a beat, hippie or punk context.

Richard Prince, Untitled (publicity), 2006 Poster, album and check, framed
© Richard Prince, courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

Rare books and manuscripts by Rimbaud, Céline, Cocteau and Genet, European underground magazines and popular books, were selected among BnF’s collections. Richard Prince has planned to re-appropriate some of them, building bridges with several treasures from his private collection of books that were never previously put on display. Documents connected to the key beat generation figures are presented such as an annotated copy of William Burroughs’ 'Naked lunch' or the handwritten scroll of Jack Kerouac’s 'Big sur', Prince’s collection of 'pulp fiction' focusing on the erotic and disturbing nurse character or his collection of editions of Nabokov’s 'Lolita' in about twenty languages. Paintings, drawings, photographs, artists’ books, manuscripts and objects illustrate the artist’s personal universe between high and low culture, between America and Europe. The exhibition ends with a reading room which walls have been covered with fake books conceived by Richard Prince and treasures rarely presented before.

Richard Prince, Untitled (cowboy), 1991
Ektacolor photograph, 45 x 30 inches (114.3 x 76.2 cm)
© Richard Prince, courtesy of Gagosian Gallery