Untitled (four single men with interchangeable backgrounds looking to the right)

Artist: Richard Prince (American, born Canal Zone (Panama), 1949)

Date: 1977

Medium: Mixed media on paper

Dimensions: 58.4 x 48.3 cm (23 x 19 in. )

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.123

Rights and Reproduction: © Richard Prince


In the mid-1970s, Prince was an aspiring painter who earned his living at Time-Life clipping articles from magazines for staff writers. What was left at the end of the day were the ads: gleaming luxury goods and impossibly perfect models that provoked in the artist an uneasy mix of fascination and repulsion, disgust and envy. By 1977, Prince had begun rephotographing these advertisements in order to, as he put it, "turn the lie back on itself." Acting as art director, artist, and viewer, he imagined his purloined images as stills from a movie in his head. He developed a repertoire of strategies-blurring, cropping, enlarging, grouping-that revealed the hallucinatory strangeness, or "social science fiction," of his seemingly natural source material.