Richard Prince: Paintings
May 11 - June 21, 2002
Barbara Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Richard Prince. This body of work features handpainted jokes that are fractured, incomplete, repeated and layered, like the stuttering speech of an amateur comedian. Schematic figures and bold, abstract "cartoon" faces also populate many of the paintings, which range in length from five to nearly seventeen feet.
Prince first incorporated jokes into his work in the mid-1980s when he redrew captioned cartoons from magazines. Since then, he has repeated and reworked the same jokes in multiple formats, from jokes that are handwritten on paper or canvas, to those that are silkscreened on smoothly-painted canvases, sans facteur. Through his recycling of anonymous jokes, Prince addresses the instability of core values such as identity, authenticity and authorship.
In these new paintings, the jokes undergo a further permutation. Together with cartoon references such as smiling daisies, stick figures and black "cartoon" faces, texts of jokes run across large-scale canvases amid tactile, painterly drips and splatters, which may be read as a simultaneous homage to and send-up of Abstract Expressionism. Whereas in earlier works a single joke was the focus of a composition, here each painting contains several jokes, some of which are obscured to the point of illegibility under layers of paint or superimposed text. In some areas Prince splices texts from different jokes, revealing unexpected similarities resembling Freudian slips. Elsewhere, spelling and syntax errors confound our reading of the text, suggesting that something was lost during the process of relentlessly copying and recopying the jokes. Some jokes refer to Prince's earlier works, while others are new ones culled from the artist’s vast archive. Although the jokes are derived from various sources, the abject humor of rejection and sexual taboo is ever-present. As curator Lisa Phillips has observed, “Jokes about infidelity figure especially prominently—perhaps as a metaphor for the infidelity of pictures," or in this case, words.
Richard Prince was born in 1949 and lives and works in upstate New York. A retrospective of Prince's paintings and photographs is now on view at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, which conjoins the previous exhibition of paintings at Kunsthalle Zurich and photographs at Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel. Other solo exhibitions include: MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Schindler House, Los Angeles; MAK Vienna; Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover; Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kunstverein and Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf; IVAM Centre del Carme, Valencia; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
A fully-illustrated catalogue designed by the artist with an essay by Neville Wakefield will accompany the exhibition.