(Los Angeles) - Edward Cella Art & Architecture is pleased to present a rare collection of artworks, ephemera, and personal correspondence by artist Richard Prince. This private collec-tion was assembled by New York writer and producer Douglas Blair Turnbaugh. The archive dates to the artist's earliest and most formative years (1977-1988) and offers an intimate glimpse into the unique relationship and confidential rapport shared by this influential artist and his devoted early patron. In Turnbaugh's own words: "Some of the pieces in this col-lection may at first glance be seen merely as common objects. But Richard is a master prank-ster, provocateur, poet, alchemist, prestidigitator — he can transform a material object, without altering its physicality, into an idea, into art, into an icon." Richard Prince: The Douglas Blair Turnbaugh Collection (1977-1988) features notable highlights from the collection, offering visitors a museum-like experience.
As an artist, Prince himself is a collector and interpreter of cultural debris. Fascinated by the image-driven universe of commerce and consumption, he has spent four decades mediating visual culture through appropriation art strategies. The artist sustained a direct flirtation with Turnbaugh’s own interest in collecting homoerotic and abject art, creating drawings and inter-jections that clearly appealed and played to this impulse. The Turnbaugh collection features over 200 items, most of which have never before been seen or exhibited. Highly personal, the collection attests to the intimacy and friendship shared between an artist and a collector. Further study of it also reveals Prince's own developing narrative as a young artist in search of self-definition, offering some insights into the relationship between his evolving identity and work. Prince’s early travels to Europe and Los Angeles for seminal exhibitions are documented in an array of announcements, reviews, and postcards often subtly modified by the artist. In 1983, Prince writes to Turnbaugh from London, on the occasion of the opening of the artist’s first museum exhibition in Europe, “People still don’t quite no (sic) what to make of my work. Sixteen year olds seem to like it.” The national controversy surrounding the appropriation of a naked, prepubescent photograph of Brooke Shields in Prince’s project entitled, Spiritual America is represented with an invitation to Turnbaugh to attend the private reception with the password being “Testimony.”
The ephemera from the Turnbaugh collection reflects many of the larger themes and gestures at play in the artist's work of the time. Arranged chronologically, the exhibition includes, in addition to the original exhibition announcement cards, sequences of rare artist pamphlets and publications; personal, illustrated letters from Prince to Turnbaugh (filled with the artist’s obser-vations on his early career developments); and other unique and rare objects. These materials will be presented in thematic groupings in vitrines, offering a first-hand understanding of the rapid advancement of the artist’s early career. The cultural ferment of New York City’s East Village and SoHo's development as the primary art world center of the time, are captured in Prince’s own handwritten phone list. The collection also includes a Metro Pictures first exhibition announcement; checklists from Leo Castelli’s groundbreaking 1979 exhibition, Pictures: Photographs (the exhibition that gave the name to the Pictures Generation); and rare project flyers and business cards for The Offices of Fend, Fitzgibbon, Holzer, Nadin, Prince & Winters, a short-lived artist collaborative that staged art interventions in New York and in Los Angeles.
As a friend and collector, Turnbaugh purchased some of the artist’s very first photographs and loaned materials to two of the artist’s early museum exhibitions, including a pair of exhibition prints from the artist’s Entertainer series, included in this presentation. Further insights into the artist’s creative process and experimentation are evident in more than twenty early inscribed photographs, drawings, text-based artworks, and collages, all sent to Turnbaugh as gifts and exhibited now for the first time. Among the more significant works is a 1982 self-portrait of Prince as a cowboy; the image, taken in 1973, includes an inscription to Turnbaugh with personal text, a clear harbinger of his Jokes series.
Many of the artist’s earliest books and publications are featured in the exhibition, including an early draft of Why I Go To The Movies Alone. Turnbaugh was to write the first monograph on the artist’s work, represented in the collection by signed contracts, draft outlines, and a proposed checklist of materials to be included.
Saturday, June 25, 2 pm
A roundtable discussion organized by Carole Ann Klonarides with Kristine McKenna and Richard Kuhlenschmidt, offering their unique perspectives and first-hand insights into this formative period of the artist’s career.
ABOUT DOUGLAS BLAIR TURNBAUGH
A writer and producer, Douglas Blair Turnbaugh has known Richard Prince since 1976 and has collected his work for many years. Turnbaugh worked with several arts organizations as a writer, consultant, fundraiser, trustee, and board member. He studied Art History at the University of Washington and helped to fund many contemporary artists and arts organizations.
ABOUT RICHARD PRINCE
Since his first solo exhibition, at Artists Space in New York in 1980, Prince has had exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1983); MAGASIN, Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble, France (1988); IVAM Centre del Carme, Valencia, Spain (1989); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (1992); Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany (1997); MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, CA (2000); Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel (2001); Kunsthalle Zürich (2002), and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2007). His work has appeared in the Wiener Internationale Biennale (1981); Bienal de Sao Paolo (1983); Whitney Biennial (1985, 1987, 1997, and 2004); Biennale of Sydney (1986); Venice Biennale (1988 and 2007); Art et Publicité 1890–1990 at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1990); Documenta 9 (1992); Around 1984: A Look at Art in the Eighties at P.S. 1 in New York (2000); Surprise, Surprise at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (2006), and Street and Studio at the Tate Modern in London (2008). Prince lives and works in upstate New York.