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 undermined the seeming naturalness and inevitability of the image, revealing it to be a hallucination, a fiction of society's desires.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Signed and inscribed in pencil, recto BR: "R Prince 1976"; typescript beneath left, painted panel: "1. fifty fifty (shared assumed or borne equally. (proposition) 0 half favorable and half unfavorable (chance)adj. // 2. an area of uncertainty. fifty degrees a medium temperature. fifty per cent. half. ½ // 3. a zone or area of color, a spotlight of color, a detail, closepu up, third degree, component in extenso a rec of col // or color a rectangle of color a disc of color a relief", "FIFO - an abbreviation for 'first in, first out' five 0 fivo 5 0 5-o 50% fifth wheel - the s [in pencil] pare tire"; inscribed in pencil, after typescript: "mirror reflects // what is now on the // mirror shatter (?) left // is on // the right"; inscribed in pencil, below typescript: "fifty fifty - shared assumed borne equally", "half favorable // half unfavorable // chance", "fifty - numbers from 50-59", "the fi [crossed out] 5th wheel (spare wheel) // unnecessary // burdensome"
the artist; [Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York City]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 26," May 15, 2000–September 18, 2000.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Modern Photographs from the Collection IX," July 20, 2004–January 16, 2005.