Richard Prince: Fourteen PaintingsExhibition | Richard Prince By Avram Finkelstein
This time, its personal
Unlike the art movements of the early 20th Century, the Beats articulated a view of our culture that was purely American. The postwar rise of the middle class was the genesis of the Beat critique, and that critique is at the core of postmodernism. So the stack of Jack Kerouac's On the Roads at the center of the Richard Prince show at 303 Gallery makes perfect sense. But unlike his recent appropriation of Catcher in the Rye, Prince hasn't added his own signature to these editions. In fact, the title and author are blacked out. It's not that Prince has met his match in Kerouac: it's that he's an acolyte, a collector of first editions of this particular book. The piece is a self-portrait. It's also a glimpse into Prince's appropriation strategies from a personal perspective, and into a new direction for the artist. As with his Catcher in the Rye, the stack is a reference to his recent Canal Zone lawsuit in which the artist was forced to explain himself, literally, on the stand. In a way, these literary appropriations are denuded versions of his previous work. They are textual, not subtextual, and testimonial. And why not? Now that his court documents are public record, what could possibly be left to hide?
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