Richard Prince’s ‘Untitled (Cowboy)’ at LACMA

I recently visited LACMA’s exhibit of American artist Richard Prince’s ‘Untitled (Cowboy)’ photographic series in which Prince takes “re-photographs”, essentially photographing old Marlborough ads from magazines, and blows the images up to large scale artworks. Prince does not try to mask the fact that the photographs are not his own, in fact Prince leaves in the centerfold from the magazine that the ad was originally in which appears as a taped line down the center of the work. The result are works that evoke the idyllic Wild West but which also spark debate on appropriation of other artists work and the existence of originality.

Many believe that what Prince does, by taking other people’s photographs and basically exhibiting them as his own work, is stealing and makes the work worthless as a mere copy. I, however, believe that artists can use whatever material they please to craft their works. Working in the Duchampian tradition, Prince takes “ready-made” photographs and slightly manipulates them into his final product. Some say it is fraud, others say it is art and maybe it is this precise debate that Prince is aiming to inspire in those who view his work.  What is your take on Prince’s re-photographs?

All work shown is by Richard Prince apart of his “Untitled (Cowboy)” series and all photographs of the artwork were taken by me.

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