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Richard Prince: de Kooning, Paris

May 5, 2011 by Kay

It was time to pay homage to an artist I really like. Some people worship at the altar - I believe in de Kooning. --Richard Prince

RICHARD PRINCE: de Kooning Installation view Photo by Zarko Vijatovic

Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present “Richard Prince: de Kooning” an exhibition of paintings and works on paper. This coincides with “Richard Prince: American Prayer" at the BibliothÀ¨que nationale de France, an exhibition of American literature, ephemera and artworks from Prince’s personal collection.

Richard Prince’s “de Kooning” series is a process of interaction with the canonic imagery of the Abstract Expressionist idol Willem de Kooning. The idea for these edgy Oedipal works came to him when he was leafing through a catalogue of de Kooning’s Women series. He started sketching over the paintings, sometimes drawing a man to de Kooning’s woman. As time went on, he began applying fragments of male and female torsos, genitalia, thighs, and facial features, cut and pasted from catalogues and vintage porn magazines, as well as drawing with graphite and oil crayon, adding outlines, silhouettes and textures to the original figures that further blur the distinction between de Kooning’s imagery and Prince’s own.

RICHARD PRINCE Untitled (de Kooning), 2009 Ink jet and acrylic on canvas 74 3/4 x 59 inches (189.9 x 149.9 cm)

From these intensely worked drawings evolved a series of paintings that are, similarly, montages of elements from de Kooning's original paintings with figures cut from printed matter. The results are blown up onto large canvases via ink-jet printer, then the original material all but painted over. From the resulting abstract grounds, Prince then conjures up crude figures that recall de Kooning’s savage female subjects. The resulting hermaphroditic creatures are hybrids on several levels, merging male with female, painting with photography and print, and the refinement of modernist art with the vulgarities of mass cultural representation. Both homage and desecration, the de Kooning paintings exemplify Prince’s vision of a "Spiritual America," a historical consciousness fueled by a pervasive desire for rebellion and reinvention.

RICHARD PRINCE Untitled (de Kooning), 2009 Ink jet and acrylic on canvas 77 3/8 x 61 3/4 inches (196.5 x 156.8 cm)

Mining images from mass media, advertising and entertainment since the late seventies, Prince has redefined the concepts of authorship, ownership, and aura. Applying his understanding of the complex transactions of representation to the making of art, he evolved a unique signature filled with echoes of other signatures yet that is unquestionably his own. An avid collector and perceptive chronicler of American subcultures and vernaculars and their role in the construction of American identity, he has probed the depths of racism, sexism, and psychosis in mainstream humor; and the mythical status of cowboys, bikers, customized cars, and celebrities. His most recent work is an explosive mix of pulp fiction, soft porn, and high art.

For all other information please contact the gallery at paris@gagosian.com or at +33.1.75.00.05.92.