Richard Prince: Untitled (cowboy) presents two photographic series from the 2010s that will be publicly exhibited for the first time at LACMA. Continuing the artist’s career-long engagement with the motif of the cowboy, Untitled (cowboy), recently acquired by LACMA, and Untitled (original cowboy) achieve the grandeur of 19th-century history painting while also deconstructing the iconography of the American West. Once again challenging the conventional meanings and limits of the photographic medium, Prince reignites debates he sparked some 40 years ago.
In the mid-1970s, Prince was an aspiring painter working in Time Inc.’s tear sheet department, clipping texts for magazine writers. After he removed the articles, he was left with advertisements: glossy pictures of commodities, models, and other objects of desire. Between 1980 and 1992, Prince paid particular attention to the motif of the cowboy, as depicted in a series of advertisements for Marlboro cigarettes. Prince began to re-photograph the advertisements, cropping and enlarging them to make limited-edition prints as artworks of his own. Prince’s re-photography had an explosive effect on the art world, provoking lawsuits and setting auction records. With this controversial practice, he redefined what it means to “take” a photograph.
For his 2015–16 Untitled (cowboy) photographs, Prince revisited copies of TIME from the 1980s and 1990s using contemporary technology. In contrast to this studio-based manipulation, for the 2013 series Untitled (original cowboy) Prince went to Utah, seeking out quintessential viewpoints established by legions of photographers—tourists and artists alike—who preceded him. Extending his interrogation of this particular American protagonist into the era of Instagram, Prince demonstrates that the stakes around originality, appropriation, and truth in advertising are as high as ever.
Credit: This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
All exhibitions at LACMA are underwritten by the LACMA Exhibition Fund. Major annual support is provided by Kitzia and Richard Goodman, with generous annual funding from Lauren Beck and Kimberly Steward, the Judy and Bernard Briskin Family Foundation, Louise and Brad Edgerton, Edgerton Foundation, Emily and Teddy Greenspan, Jenna and Jason Grosfeld, The Jerry and Kathleen Grundhofer Foundation, David Schwartz Foundation, Inc., Taslimi Foundation, and Lenore and Richard Wayne.
About LACMA Since its inception in 1965, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography, mirroring Los Angeles’s rich cultural heritage and uniquely diverse population. Today LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of over 135,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of art history from new and unexpected points of view. A museum of international stature as well as a vital cultural center for Southern California, LACMA shares its vast collection with the Greater Los Angeles County and beyond through exhibitions, public programs, and research facilities that attract over 1.5 million visitors annually, in addition to serving millions more through community partnerships, school outreach programs, and creative digital initiatives. LACMA’s main campus is located halfway between the ocean and downtown, adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum and the future home of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Dedicated to serving all of Los Angeles, LACMA collaborates with a range of curators, educators, and artists on exhibitions and programs at various sites throughout the County. Location: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90036. lacma.org
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