Born in 1949, Richard prince is an American photographer and painter. At first he was inspired by the works of Jackson Pollock, an abstract expressionist. In 1967, after completing his high school, Prince went to Europe at the age of 18. Later, returned to his hometown and joined Nasson College, Maine. He later moved to New York.
In the late 1970s, appropriation art became highly popular. During that time, Prince was working in the tear sheets department in Time magazine where he collected torn commercial images and represented them in a unique way. He described the search of interesting advertisements as beachcombing. The first series included subjects like watches, models, jewelry, pens, furniture. Thus he explained the process of appropriation as re-photographing others’ photography and creating a new image effortlessly. Other artists using this technique are Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman, Mike Bidlo, Barbara Kruger, Vikky Alexander and Sherrie Levine. Prince produced a series, Cowboys, from 1980 until 1992 – which is a collection of re-photography. The photographs are taken from Malboro advertisements and they represent American manliness. This work by Prince questions the realty of cowboys and of media images.
His re-photographing approach led him to make a series titled as Gangs. This time the subject was not advertising and media, the work was aimed at American society’s niches. He included themes like drugs, rock n roll and sex. He produced works like Velvet Beach (1984) and Live Free or Die (1986).
Richard Prince also made joke pieces in which he used humor to express things about his subject. The first joke was created in 1985 in New York. It was about a subject he often worked with – psychiatrists. His jokes use to be written by hand, selected from joke books. He later incorporated images with text and often he paired irrelevant images and texts that created an ambiguous relationship. Such tactic can be noticed in Good Revolution (1991) which were black and white images of a man in boxing shorts with doodles of kitchen oven. These images were paired with a joke. This playful style was became popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
What was in Prince’s work that set him apart from other artists who used the appropriation technique? He had a discrete quality in his work. He made Are You Kidding in 1989, Firemen and the Drunk in 1988 and in the same year he made another work that were distinct from the works of other artists.
Prince also made other series on various subjects such as celebrities and movie stars, car hoods, check paintings, and nurse paintings. Each of these series were inspired by something or the other, sometimes Prince’s own previous work inspired him and at other times he took inspiration from other media forms. In his series on celebrities he plays with the obsession that Americans have with film stars. This time he gained inspiration from Andy Warhol and produced his work. Then in the car hood’s series he depicted his interest in automobiles. He used car hoods to cast molds in different colors. His check paintings series involved collecting and pasting checks, once owned by famous figures, covered in paint and accompanied by images of people they belonged to. The nurse paintings were inspired by the titles and covers of low-cost novels.
His series from 2007 imitated the style of Willem de Kooning and his later works were different from his previous approaches. At this time, he collaborated with Marc Jacobs, a fashion designer to work on the 2008 spring collection and he also worked for Louis Vuitton.