ars gratia artis?
February 23, 2016 10:26 AM   Subscribe

 
What a lazy piece of shit con artist this man is.
posted by egypturnash at 10:50 AM on February 23, 2016 [11 favorites]


Lazy, ok, but where's the con? This has always been his thing, he never lied about any of it.
posted by Huck500 at 11:00 AM on February 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've always wondered if Prince is in on the joke -he's exposing the phoniness of the art world- or if he thinks his art is the work of a genius. For chrissake, he took pictures of Marlboro cigarette ads and they've sold for millions of dollars. At this point, anything he does will sell. In modern art (or maybe it's always been this way), provenance and reputation of the artist supersedes the actual art.
posted by blairsyprofane at 11:08 AM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hoo boy. I am pretty strongly at the permissive end of the spectrum of "What is Art?" but this guy really strains my permissive inclinations.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:08 AM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


If Prince can sell copies of other people's photos with commentary below, why can't sell another person's audio track with a vocal commentary track afterwards?
posted by demiurge at 11:10 AM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


Thirty-seven of Prince’s New Portraits are now on view in the rear of Larry Gagosian's store ...

If scanned a Prince Instie, blew it up, put it on canvas, erased it, and called it "Erased Prince," I wonder if Gogo would put me in his store?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:10 AM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


Burglarly is a collaboration—an unwitting collaboration, but a collaboration nonetheless.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:13 AM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


And what is motivating the buyers? I can't find any information right away on what people pay for Graham's prints, but at least for many of the others, it seems that most of what people are paying for is the performative aspect, and it's unlikely they'd pay that much for the photographs themselves. I'm sure many of the original photographers would been happy to print out similar copies of the unadulterated photos for much lower prices.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:15 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


According to the suit, Graham spent two weeks trekking the mountains of Jamaica in May of 1996, with his photo equipment and mobile studio "in order to capture photographs of the Rastafarian people in their surrounding environment." He later copyrighted the series, including the work in question, which he sells in editions, through his Paris dealer A. Galerie as well as his studio.

The suit notes that on October 25, 2014, Prince responded to a Twitter post made by Graham's wife about the appropriation saying "You can have your photo back. I don't want it. You can have all the credit in the world."

Wow. Just.. wow. This guy is a complete shitheel.
posted by lock sock and barrel at 11:15 AM on February 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


Richard Prince is clearly the result of a $1 bet between high end art gallery owners to could come up with the ridiculous art they could conceive of & convince the world’s high end art buyers to buy it.
posted by pharm at 11:16 AM on February 23, 2016 [12 favorites]


my tublr to book pitch: screencaps of prince's instagram feed with my dick on them

$10k each hit me up
posted by klangklangston at 11:22 AM on February 23, 2016 [17 favorites]


I would put good money down that the buyers of the photos ripped from Instagram have a no idea what the website is (or have at least never visited the site) and so find the whole thing alien and novel and apparently worth $90,000.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:28 AM on February 23, 2016


... yet another reason I'm glad I don't post photos to the internet.
posted by lock sock and barrel at 11:28 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I see zero difference between Prince doing this and Rifftrax reselling a movie with their commentary. Except Rifftrax is adding something meaningful and unique to the peice of art. I hope each of these Instagram users get every cent of proceeds, plus a hefty chunk of punitive damages.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:30 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would put good money down that the buyers of the photos ripped from Instagram have a no idea what the website is (or have at least never visited the site) and so find the whole thing alien and novel and apparently worth $90,000.

Since Prince has been appropriating art for 40 years, I would guess that most of his buyers know exactly what they are buying. Believe it or not, many of the people who are willing to pay nearly a hundred thousand dollars for a piece of art are familiar with appropriation as an artistic gesture.

Except Rifftrax is adding something meaningful and unique to the peice of art.

A lot of Prince's art works by stripping the commentary. He isolates images from their original context and then places them next to each other. And he often does modify the images. His Nurse Paintings are dramatically different than their source material.

I mean, you don't have to like it, and I certainly won't fault people for exploring the legal dimension of appropriation art, but it is art.
posted by maxsparber at 11:34 AM on February 23, 2016 [22 favorites]


Let me add, his placing them next to each other offers its own commentary. His Cowboys series, drawn from cigarette ads, winds up feeling very different than the images felt when they were tools of advertising.

And there are appropriation artists for whom the whole point is to exactly duplicate someone else's art. Many of them are women, like Sherrie Levine, and the duplication ends up making points about the place of women in the arts and the way we interpret their art that would have been impossible had they not been so exactly in the duplication.
posted by maxsparber at 11:39 AM on February 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't suppose Prince would do this with, say, images of Mickey Mouse as a subject?
posted by underflow at 11:53 AM on February 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


That this is controversial is a big part of why it is interesting and worth doing. Getting pissed off about it and saying the guy's art is bad (or that it isn't art) is basically self-contradiction.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:57 AM on February 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


Not everything controversial is interesting or worth doing, and saying that it is is the laziest form of 'art criticism'. Otherwise, why not just dump a 4chan archive in the Whitney?
posted by Itaxpica at 11:59 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not everything controversial is interesting or worth doing

You'll find I didn't say that!
posted by shakespeherian at 12:02 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


No, shakespeherian said Prince is interesting. And he is. He's not above criticism, but "con artist" and "not art" are also lazy criticisms.
posted by maxsparber at 12:03 PM on February 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


So you think his work in the this case is somehow special? WHy?
posted by smidgen at 12:03 PM on February 23, 2016


One of the functions of art is to say 'hey look.' Prince is taking something digital, fleeting, and overwhelmingly voluminous (an Instagram feed) and recontextualizing it on canvas, as discrete bits of physical art to be kept forever. It makes us look at these photos in a way we didn't previously. At the same time, the work is questioning the nature of individual ownership of digital images by merit of the shit people are complaining about. It's a small contribution to a handful of conversations about art, image, artist, ownership, commodification, and culture that go back to Warhol at least. Warhol didn't invent the Campbell's Soup can design, but a group of those paintings sold for $15 million.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:11 PM on February 23, 2016 [21 favorites]


There is plenty of good critical writing on why Prince is interesting. I don't agree with everything written about the man (but when do I ever agree with everything), and I think there are fair criticism can be leveled against him. But that has nothing to do with whether his work has value, or if he is an artist or not.

What’s Not the Matter With Richard Prince
frieze on the artist
MORE MILK YVETTE on the artist
Richard Prince’s Outside Streak
Richard Prince’s Instagrams
posted by maxsparber at 12:12 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


And what is motivating the buyers?

I would guess most are extremely wealthy investors diversifying their overall portfolios who believe that, like the stocks, bonds, and real estate they own, the worth of the art piece will also rise. (And not be impacted by things like falling stock markets.)
posted by aught at 12:15 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ok, to phrase my comment more accurately: just because something is controversial doesn't make it interesting or worth doing. I disagree with your fundamental claim that "That this is controversial is a big part of why it is interesting and worth doing."
posted by Itaxpica at 12:15 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Or, in a bit more depth: I think that "controversial" and "interesting" are totally orthogonal concepts. Something might be interesting for the same reasons that it's controversial, but the fact that it's controversial itself should have no bearing on how interesting or worth doing it is.

In this case, I don't think that the thing that makes it controversial - unrepentant theft for profit - makes it particularly interesting.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:17 PM on February 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am stating that Prince's work in particular is, at least in part, about the very things that are controversial. I am not saying that everything in the world which is controversial is therefore interesting.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:20 PM on February 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Nothing has been stolen. Prince has been sued for copyright infingement before and consistently shown his work to be fair use and transformative.
posted by maxsparber at 12:20 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


interesting or worth doing

I think you're conflating your opinion of whether something is interesting or worth doing with whether it is interesting or worth doing for others in general.

but the fact that it's controversial itself should have no bearing on how interesting or worth doing it is

There is probably some influence between the two, but I doubt anyone in this thread or any art critic would argue that that are absolutely correlated.
posted by aught at 12:21 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


That this is controversial is a big part of why it is interesting and worth doing.

IMO, Prince's portraits are mildly interesting from a art-theoretical standpoint and mildly interesting as exercises in portraiture and maybe a little more than mildly interesting as the artworld version of a funny image macro, but "worth doing" is definitely YMMV and the surrounding "controversy" has much more to do with Price's carefully groomed bad boy rep and the thin legal ice he so likes to skate on, than with anything shocking or novel about the works themselves.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't suppose Prince would do this with, say, images of Mickey Mouse as a subject?

Yeah, I'd like to see this guy take on someone with big pockets, not random Instagram user #58,211,302 who may not have the funds or inclination to get a piece of what's theirs. That he doesn't seems to be suggestive that his willingness to take on controversy only goes so far.

Note, he did appropriate the Marlboro Man, but he took his own photo of it, rather than lifting directly from the source material, which might give him some distance and defensible space. With Instagram, he's straight screenshotting, it appears, with a lil comment at the bottom to be "transformative."
posted by Existential Dread at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


I would guess most are extremely wealthy investors diversifying their overall portfolios who believe that, like the stocks, bonds, and real estate they own, the worth of the art piece will also rise. (And not be impacted by things like falling stock markets.)

So they're not paying for the Instagram photos. They're paying for the appropriation itself, based on its perceived value.

Even the public reaction to the appropriation could be considered transformative.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:24 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


He isolates images from their original context and then places them next to each other.

Here's a thought: if part of what makes it transformative is placing it in the context of the entire exhibition, then when someone buys just one of the pieces and removes it from the context of the rest of the exhibition does it (at least in part) cease to be transformative?

Also:

Nothing has been stolen. Copyright infringement is not theft.

That's a very matter-of-fact way to state a great big opinion with a whole lot of grey area, but I'm gonna drill down in to one key distinction I think you're glossing over: copyright infringement may not necessarily, inherently be theft but profiting from copyright infringement is a very different story.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:27 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Prince has been sued for copyright infingement before and consistently shown his work to be fair use and transformative.

That's not entirely true. Price was willing to settle out of court over 5 of the pieces involved in Cariou v. Prince.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


That's a very matter-of-fact way to state a great big opinion with a whole lot of grey area

No. "unrepentant theft for profit" is a great big opinion with a whole lot of grey area. I am simply stating the legal facts.
posted by maxsparber at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


According to the New York Post the works with his comments, which are “sometimes just emojis”, included photos from the feeds of celebrities such as Pamela Anderson and Kate Moss, and sold for up to $100,000.

Hmmmm, interesting. I wonder: if this guy crosses over from copyright infringement to trademark infringement, does his liability/exposure to expensive lawsuits change? I would guess the answer is probably yes.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:30 PM on February 23, 2016


Eh, a rambling indulgent new yorker article isn't going to convince me, sorry. :-) I will never argue it isn't a kind of art at the extreme, but it is shitty ethics to take another artists work and capitalize on it.

And yes, I realize that I'm buying into the "art" when I complain about it, but I still argue he knows what he is doing when he sells other artist's pictures for 100k a pop, and ethics matters. And... furthermore,. arguing that he won a legal case means he didn't have the intent of stealing anything for profit is... a not very well considered argument.
posted by smidgen at 12:30 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's not entirely true. Price was willing to settle out of court over 5 of the pieces involved in Cariou v. Prince.

It is true inasmuch as the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the pieces could constitute fair use, and that a number of his works were transformative fair uses. They remanded it to the supreme court, who passed on it, and Prince settled. At no point did a court find Prince guilty of copyright infringement.
posted by maxsparber at 12:33 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am simply stating the legal facts.

No you're not. The legal facts in this case are that what he's doing isn't copyright infringement because the courts have ruled it fair use (whether or not we agree with that; I personally don't but that's not what's at issue here). Whether or not copyright infringement is theft is irrelevant.

(Unless you're talking about the law more broadly rather than in this specific instance, in which case it's just as irrelevant, because I'm not talking about whether or not what he's doing is legally theft, I'm talking about if it should be considered theft; which I think it should. I'm not saying he should go to jail, just that he's an asshole).
posted by Itaxpica at 12:35 PM on February 23, 2016


And now we've settled into semantic circle-jerkery of the highest order (yay art!), so I'm gonna back out of this thread before it gets any worse.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:36 PM on February 23, 2016


Hey, I came to discuss the art. This became about the legal -- not semantic -- difference between copyright infringement and theft because you insisted on conflating the two.
posted by maxsparber at 12:39 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think it's pretty obvious that he's just cashing in, PR influenced articles notwithstanding, but I'm done arguing about it.
posted by smidgen at 12:43 PM on February 23, 2016




Itaxpica: " The legal facts in this case are that what he's doing isn't copyright infringement because the courts have ruled it fair use (whether or not we agree with that; I personally don't but that's not what's at issue here). "

Well the case that went to court seemed to hinge on a pretty fine hair split which barely came down on his side. That doesn't mean all his appropriations will been seen that way by courts in the future. This is always a messy bit of copyright law because it comes down to "how trans formative" and "how much infringement" and sadly also "how much money each side has".
posted by Mitheral at 12:44 PM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


PR influenced articles notwithstanding,

I don't agree that it is obvious, and, as someone who has done arts criticism for two decades, I think suggesting that the articles are somehow disingenuous or unduly influence by PR is, itself, really shitty criticism.
posted by maxsparber at 12:45 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


At no point did a court find Prince guilty of copyright infringement.

Inasmuch as the Court found that 25 of the 30 pieces in question did not infringe Cariou's copyright and declined to offer an opinion on the other 5 following which Price settled with Cariou, it is correct to say that the Court did not find Price guilty of copyright infringement. Whether the Graham suit will turn out differently, is a question.

I'd say, however, that if the most interesting thing about your work is the legal actions, you should quit with the portraiture and call yourself a performance artist.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:46 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I find this pretty interesting. I mean, first of all the photos are all shit. Really. Utter throw-away look at me look at me look at me selfie-like bullshit that does nothing to push the medium forwards and will have zero relevance or social importance in photographic terms a few years from now (that's if they even still *exist* a few years from now).

But Prince did something to make them relevant, they've escaped the platform. Not just that, but worth something beyond the few thousand virtual hand-jobs their creators originally intended them for.

Complaining about reappropriation of this style of work uploaded to instagram feels like throwing trash into the street then complaining about someone else recycling it.
posted by lawrencium at 12:53 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


A lot of people like imposing rules on art.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:53 PM on February 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Exposure"
posted by smidgen at 12:56 PM on February 23, 2016


I am genuinely curious what makes this stuff worth 6 figures - is it solely that Princes name is attached to it? Is it because he has connections to a gallery with a clientele that will pay this kind of money? In an alternate universe where these exact pieces were instead created by a no-name and shown at some DIY gallery in Brooklyn - or sold right off the internet - could you still slap a 100k starting bid on it? I'm fascinated by how value is appended to artwork. And also would personally love to print some giant pictures of random shit I found on the internet and sell it for thousands of dollars. How can I get started?
posted by windbox at 12:59 PM on February 23, 2016


"Copyright infringement is not theft" is an extremely silly thing to argue about. Commonly it is regarded as theft, legally, it's more of a misappropriation kind of thing. To argue that one view is right and the other is wrong, is... well, I guess this *is* the internet.

As for whether these are fair use, or transformative... I'm gonna go with probably not. He hasn't really done anything. But RIAA/MPAA notwithstanding there aren't really copyright police, so the victims of this misappropriation would have to argue it in court. Unfortunately, I very much doubt that any of the Instagrammers have registered these copyrights, which means that any award would probably be limited to actual damages (which would be minimal for an Instagram photo) and not include attorney fees, so it likely wouldn't be worth the effort.

(Instagram itself might have better luck.)
posted by surlyben at 1:00 PM on February 23, 2016


A lot of people like imposing rules on art.

Well, I think it's fair to note that copyright does have a role in protecting works produced by artists, and this guy's artistic statement appears to be skating as close to the line dividing infringement and fair use as possible. Plus he's pulling in large sums of money doing so. I think it's a reasonable response for the people he's appropriating from to feel as though he's earning money on their work, and to assert their perceived rights.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:03 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


He's made representations of pieces of an instagram feed, which is distinct from if he's reproduced just the photos. Does the user own that, or does Instagram, or does no one own it because it's a public-facing feed? If someone does own it, then am I stealing an architect's work by drawing a building? Did Gauguin steal the work of whoever did the other sketch of him on the wall?

Prince is a poster boy for the idea that if your work truly has no merit, then the response is indifference. When the response is anger, it means something has been asked of the viewer that they are unable to respond to.

Why does it make people angry? He's been repeatedly found to have done nothing illegal. He hasn't deprived Instagram or the users whose posts he appropriated of anything. On that front, if anything, he's promoted them. He hasn't misrepresented himself. So... Why anger?

It's almost as if he's been intentionally pointing out legal and philosophical gray areas for the last 40 years! But why would an artist want to go and do a thing like that?
posted by cmoj at 1:08 PM on February 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


He hasn't deprived Instagram or the users whose posts he appropriated of anything. On that front, if anything, he's promoted them.

I think the point is that he's monetized them, which is something that many of these users would probably like to do, if they could find anyone to pay for the images. Getting money in the picture has a way of complicating things.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:13 PM on February 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


Prince finds an image he likes, comments on it, makes a screen-grab with his iPhone, and sends the file — via email — to an assistant. From here, the file is cropped, printed as is, stretched, and presto: It's art.

It's an interesting discussion to have but, come on, it's a screenshot. It's nothing like "drawing a building" or Gauguin painting another painting in the background of his self-portrait.
posted by saul wright at 1:21 PM on February 23, 2016


The harder they argue, the guiltier they must be. The less they argue, the more guilt they must feel. Witches abound.
posted by smidgen at 1:22 PM on February 23, 2016


I am genuinely curious what makes this stuff worth 6 figures - is it solely that Princes name is attached to it? Is it because he has connections to a gallery with a clientele that will pay this kind of money?

Like any other luxury item—and that's what high-end art is and has always been—Price and Gagosian are selling a name, a connection, and a reputation. Gogo's not going to be selling my "Erased Price" at those, uh, prices, any time soon because I don't have either of the three. But if I could convince metafilter that I'm the next big thing ...

I mean, first of all the photos are all shit.

I do think Price has—and this is probably what I find most interesting about him—a good eye for what Philip Dick used to call "the God in the trash." It's an advertiser's eye or something. He's good at finding images that evoke or elicit a particular kind of zeitgeisty glamour or lust or cupidity. And that's interesting. It's Tumblr 101, but it is interesting (to me, at least.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:23 PM on February 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


cmoj: "When the response is anger, it means something has been asked of the viewer that they are unable to respond to."

Is it the viewers who are angry? I thought it was just the people being expropriated who were angry.

I mean I guess if his goal with his art is to piss off the people making the source material then mission accomplished. Otherwise it seems that garnering permission (by maybe splitting some of the income) with the copyright holders of the source material would still allow him to make his art without being a douche.

Contrast with Weird Al's approach to this issue. His parody songs are fully protected by fair use; they aren't in any sort of grey area, is it or isn't that Prince's work edges up against. Yet Weird Al still garners permission for each artist he parodies.
posted by Mitheral at 1:23 PM on February 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's an interesting discussion to have but, come on, it's a screenshot. It's nothing like "drawing a building" or Gauguin painting another painting in the background of his self-portrait.

Is the idea that the harder someone labors at something, the more it's art?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:24 PM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


The whole idea of setting boundaries on what is and isn't art ultimately leads to art that's less interesting. I don't know too much about visual art, but there's a lot of really interesting avant-garde music that works because of how well it forces us to reconsider what can be considered music. And then - like with these - we have a conversation about intentionality, and context, and appropriation, and that's kind of the point, isn't it?

I'm not a fan of Prince, personally. But I mean, there's a lively conversation going on about the nature and purpose of art, and it's not like it's incidental that it was spawned because of these prints.
posted by teponaztli at 1:28 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


He's been repeatedly found to have done nothing illegal.

The law is not the sole determinant of ethics.

He hasn't deprived Instagram or the users whose posts he appropriated of anything.

He's deprived them of control of how their image is used.

On that front, if anything, he's promoted them.

Ah, the "exposure" argument. Always a classic in these arguments.

He hasn't misrepresented himself.

But has he misrepresented his subjects?

So... Why anger?

Because it's tiresome to have to have the same argument over and over about consent and exploitation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:29 PM on February 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


Is the idea that the harder someone labors at something, the more it's art?

One of my favorite pieces of art is a sugar packet with a hare on it that Joseph Beuys stamped. Probably took even less effort.
posted by maxsparber at 1:29 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see Prince appropriate Prince's passport photo, if for no other reason than the inevitable and amusing Prince v. Prince legal case.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:30 PM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is the idea that the harder someone labors at something, the more it's art?

It's not more or less art. That was just a really lazy apples to oranges comparison.
posted by saul wright at 1:34 PM on February 23, 2016


it's tiresome to have to have the same argument over and over about consent and exploitation.

Yeah, you know, if you're strictly arguing ethics here, then be prepared to have the argument over and over because it's not a settled matter at all and artists and image creators are likely to continue to disagree over it.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:37 PM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have a sudden urge to get famous by painting 50-foot murals of MetaFilter artguments.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 1:38 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


You need to mingle first.
posted by smidgen at 1:39 PM on February 23, 2016


Mitheral: "Contrast with Weird Al's approach to this issue. His parody songs are fully protected by fair use; they aren't in any sort of grey area, is it or isn't that Prince's work edges up against. Yet Weird Al still garners permission for each artist he parodies."

Sadly not true. According to Stanford Copyright & Fair Use: Note: As a general rule, parodying more than a few lines of a song lyric is unlikely to be excused as a fair use. Performers such as Weird Al Yankovic, who earn a living by humorously modifying hit songs, seek permission of the songwriters before recording their parodies.


I appreciate Prince's past work, but I find this current project pretty lazy, to be honest. The only value he's adding, as far as I can tell, is what shakespeherian says: he's recontextualizing the Instagram feed on canvas in a gallery context. But that kind of recontextualization is now pretty old hat; you're not asking new questions or anything. It comes off to me pretty hackneyed and uninteresting, and makes the work look even more like a simple cash grab.

I also get the impression that some previous posters arguing about the legal merits of Prince's work have not read the linked articles, in particular "Why Experts Say the Latest Copyright Lawsuit Against Richard Prince Matters." It does a pretty good job of distinguishing this legal case from its predecessors. In particular, in this case Prince is a) using work that directly competes with his in the fine art market and b) using large portions of the original image without modification.
posted by crazy with stars at 1:41 PM on February 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


From a legal perspective, the piece linked above, "Why Experts Say the Latest Copyright Lawsuit Against Richard Prince Matters," is worth reading for the specifics on how Graham v. Price is likely to be different from Cariou v. Price.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:41 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


[Folks, if you don't want to have this discussion, it's fine to just skip it. If you do want to have the discussion, then act like this is a place you're choosing to be.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:44 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is the idea that the harder someone labors at something, the more it's art?

The legal idea is more like "would the average person say one work was a copy of another? If yes, then the work is a copy, and then you look at the question of fair use." It has been a while since I read the statute, I believe it uses the phrase "substantial similarity." The upshot is that there ends up being a gray area, so copyright violations have to be handled on a case by case basis. This means that even if Prince's past work was found to be okay, new work of new subjects might be in violation.
posted by surlyben at 1:46 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


... then act like this is a place you're choosing to be.

I've come to right place!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:55 PM on February 23, 2016


Is it the viewers who are angry? I thought it was just the people being expropriated who were angry.

Judging from this thread, I'd say a lot more people than the subjects of his work have anger about this.
posted by el io at 2:00 PM on February 23, 2016


I was wondering how to feel about this, and then I asked myself this question, "Do I, at some point in the future, want my commentary online to have legal standing and/or value as something I've created?" The answer is yes, very much, because I think anything that gives people more legal control over their words online is a General Good, and maybe this leads to a magical world where good commenters can actually monetize their own commentary and memes and stuff via some convergence of crowdfunding and pop-up galleries. Why not dream big? I don't know if Prince knows exactly what he's doing, but I hope he wins, because if my dream comes true, I'll totally feel like I'm living in the future, and that'll be pretty awesome.
posted by saysthis at 2:01 PM on February 23, 2016


This word, which is mine, gives me rights to your words perpetually. amirong?
posted by smidgen at 2:16 PM on February 23, 2016


Yeah, you know, if you're strictly arguing ethics here, then be prepared to have the argument over and over because it's not a settled matter at all and artists and image creators are likely to continue to disagree over it.

Yeah though to me this is a slightly ethically dubious use of a right that I believe ought to be strongly protected legally nonetheless.
posted by atoxyl at 2:30 PM on February 23, 2016


I'd like to see Prince appropriate Prince's passport photo ...

I'd caution against using Stephen King's feed, tho, lest King v. Prince become an open dynastic conflict.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:47 PM on February 23, 2016


I am genuinely curious what makes this stuff worth 6 figures

<marquee> MONEY CREATES TASTE </marquee>
posted by generalist at 2:56 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Because it's tiresome to have to have the same argument over and over about consent and exploitation.

So is a photograph of a crowd exploitation? I somehow doubt Lisa Larsen got "consent" from all of these people.

Maybe the fundamental disconnect is that people don't think that Prince knows exactly what he's doing in regard to threading moral, legal, and artistic needles here? I don't understand what there is to miss here. Prince is the one asking the questions in the first place about the stuff people are railing about.
posted by cmoj at 3:06 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, I especially appreciate the late Steve Jobs' dedication to artistic questions about wage suppression using collusion. Or one of my favorites: parking in the bike lane, by 424-RHF, exposing the ethical questions of the ease of parking in the US vs. the difficulties bicycles face. But the most outstanding work is the work by Ortho, threading the needle by highlighting the cost we are willing pay to live.
posted by smidgen at 3:55 PM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well that's pretty disingenuous. I'll bite and interpret that as a genuine argument:

1. Those people aren't artists or intending to provoke thought.
2. Prince, again, hasn't hurt anyone or violated any laws.
3. You'll be happy to know that you won't die from not using insecticides? I'm unable to extract meaning from the Ortho part.
posted by cmoj at 4:19 PM on February 23, 2016


And then you get an artist - says he doesn't want to paint at all. He takes an empty canvas and sticks it on the wall.

The birds of a feather (all the phonies and all of the fakes) while the dealers, they get together - and they decide who gets the breaks and who's going to be . . . in the gallery

© 2016 petebest, all rights reserved. Do not copy, paste, fold, spindle, or mutate.
posted by petebest at 4:19 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


For whoever has the money and the parking spot, all it takes to excuse it is an artistic statement.
posted by smidgen at 4:36 PM on February 23, 2016


"Prince is the one asking the questions in the first place about the stuff people are railing about."

To be fair, the question Prince is asking here is, "U MAD BRO?"

I'm a big fan of appropriation; I defended Prince's last go-round; these are pretty clearly hack copies and unlikely to survive a lawsuit. (Sherrie Levine is also a hack.)

The quote about these being the legal equivalent (or pomo appropriation equivalent) of Zombie Formalism is apt — I hope that Prince loses hard here and has to pay off some of the photographers whose work he Bogarted.
posted by klangklangston at 5:36 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think what Prince is doing should be legal, but i think he's being a dick. It wouldn't be hard to ask permission to use these photos and offer to pay the photographer if he ends up selling it something he makes with it. If someone says 'no,' he has millions of other photos to choose from.
posted by straight at 5:52 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Some of y'all need to go back to art school. This is clearly art, and the absolute best kind, too. Prince doesn't owe the original photographers shit, and the fact that people think there's some sort of legality involved is excruciatingly delicious.

Jesus, why not just complain that your kid could have done the same thing? I'mma twirl, haters.
posted by johnnyace at 6:13 PM on February 23, 2016


"Good art is unethical. Great art is illegal" - me.
posted by el io at 6:29 PM on February 23, 2016


and the absolute best kind, too

Don't get out much, do you?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:33 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, I think anyone arguing that Prince isn't an artist and doesn't know exactly what he's doing is barking up the wrong tree. A crucifix in a jar of piss is art. An embalmed bifurcated cow is art. A canvas print of an Instagram post is art. It's important to explore the edges of what is and isn't art.

However, that doesn't change the fact this guy is a shitheel for not even INFORMING the original artists before using their creations. I don't even care so much that he's making more money per canvas than any of the original creators are likely to ever make from their art. If something I produce is used by someone else to produce something, I would at least like to be first to know. Artists get shit on and taken advantage enough by non-artists, if be nice if "complete douchenozzle" wasn't part of this guy's avant-garde schitck. Oh, and the people who pooh-poohed the original artists' pictures because they're posted to Instagram, or called them shitty selfies, or in any way implied they're somehow less worthy than what Prince produced from them? You're just as bad.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:34 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Great art is illegal" - me.

QED ... the greatest art is the greatest crime ... bwah ha ha ha ha ha ...
posted by octobersurprise at 6:40 PM on February 23, 2016


In my opinion, to each his own to pay a lot of money for art of little effort or originality. The next guy might spend $8,000 on a golf club but people don't give him a hard time.
It just proves that art can be crap and crap can be art depending on who is willing to spend the money.
posted by Muncle at 7:40 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I never in my life thought I'd see metafilter using the same arguments as those who support "upskirt" pics.... welll..... it's not illegal... In fact a several judges say it's A_OK! In other news white guy does "edgy" "art" by taking other peoples pics and adding a smiley face! He's sooooo dreamy.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 8:56 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Metafilter only likes art if it is paintings of tall ships.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:02 PM on February 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Okay but do the Rastafarians have a say in all this.

Itaxpica: "Here's a thought: if part of what makes it transformative is placing it in the context of the entire exhibition, then when someone buys just one of the pieces and removes it from the context of the rest of the exhibition does it (at least in part) cease to be transformative?"

Even better, maybe I can photograph them all and put them on Instagram?
posted by RobotHero at 9:33 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


This discussion is so... artsplainy. Like, most people already know that whatever it is, it is indeed art and may well be legally permissible in certain jurisdictions. That's not really the problem, though.

The problem with this instance of artistic appropriation isn't that it's illegal or not art or bad art (though it might be that), it's that it's performed in the context of attitudes like Utter throw-away look at me look at me look at me selfie-like bullshit that does nothing to push the medium forwards and will have zero relevance or social importance in photographic terms a few years from now [...] But Prince did something to make them relevant -- that is, in the context of a global society that has contempt for women and thinks that if we create anything of value it must be by accident.

So, over the course of years of their lives, girls and women learn how to create compelling images, how to paint, adorn, pose and photograph themselves, collectively forging a distinctive style within the limits of their technology and platform, and it turns out that that's pretty much just garbage. There's no artistry in it! How limited their understanding of what they're doing must be, and besides, they're only doing it for attention. But let some old white guy "discover" it and wrap it up in some worn out aesthetic idea and print it out on some canvas like he just discovered Zazzle.com, and, as if by magic, Art happens. What an eye he has! How vital and clever and relevant his reasons for exploiting people's images and art without their consent must be, and besides, he's just courting controversy, which is like attention-seeking but much more sophisticated.

Sure, appropriation in art can sometimes be interesting, but the fact that a very important man sitting at a computer, having some decades-old ideas, hitting Prt Scr, and snatching up bits of young women's art like pebbles from the shore should be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars is not interesting to me. I actually find it incredibly boring.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:10 PM on February 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


"I think what Prince is doing should be legal, but i think he's being a dick. It wouldn't be hard to ask permission to use these photos and offer to pay the photographer if he ends up selling it something he makes with it. If someone says 'no,' he has millions of other photos to choose from."

The reason that I don't think that this should be "legal," to the extent that I think it should be ruled copyright infringement, is that the recontextualization is a weak claim here (contra R. Mutt), the appropriation directly hurts the ability of other, smaller artists to make money with their work, and that the work itself is pretty bullshit. It's punching down, not up, and moving forward with this as a precedent gives more latitude to corporations to swipe work without paying, while a loss here wouldn't seem to significantly hurt a broad view of "transformative" with regard to copyright.

Prince went out of his way to appropriate from people with less power and recourse than he did, and when he got called on it, petulantly said he'd respect the photographer's wishes, then went ahead and sold the prints anyway. That IP generally gets knee-jerk overprotection doesn't mean that knee-jerk sanction of underprotection is the right remedy.

"Some of y'all need to go back to art school. This is clearly art, and the absolute best kind, too. Prince doesn't owe the original photographers shit, and the fact that people think there's some sort of legality involved is excruciatingly delicious."

Aww, bullshit. If some of us need to go back to art school, you need to graduate already. "The absolute best kind"? What, for student-level xerox with some musty centenarian readymade "theory" grafted onto Grandpa Tryhards social media critique? Lemme guess, Crystal Skulls was the best kind of Indiana Jones movie?

Jesus, why not just complain that your kid could have done the same thing? I'mma twirl, haters.

More twirling, less commenting.
posted by klangklangston at 11:15 PM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


"So, over the course of years of their lives, girls and women learn how to create compelling images, how to paint, adorn, pose and photograph themselves, collectively forging a distinctive style within the limits of their technology and platform, and it turns out that that's pretty much just garbage. There's no artistry in it! How limited their understanding of what they're doing must be, and besides, they're only doing it for attention. But let some old white guy "discover" it and wrap it up in some worn out aesthetic idea and print it out on some canvas like he just discovered Zazzle.com, and, as if by magic, Art happens. What an eye he has! How vital and clever and relevant his reasons for exploiting people's images and art without their consent must be, and besides, he's just courting controversy, which is like attention-seeking but much more sophisticated."

Not only that, for all the St. Beuys recontextualization, the notion that selfies aren't art or aren't (at least) equal to Prince's 'signal boost' is directly contrary to the point of Beuys' teaching — that "everyone can be an artist."

That Prince is self-aware about using his privilege to play cuckoo to these instagrammers doesn't make it better.
posted by klangklangston at 11:19 PM on February 23, 2016


Not only that, for all the St. Beuys recontextualization, the notion that selfies aren't art or aren't (at least) equal to Prince's 'signal boost' is directly contrary to the point of Beuys' teaching — that "everyone can be an artist."


I didn't say the original photos/selfies aren't art, i said they were shit and irrelevant. There's a difference.

And two or three cars parked under the stars, i resent that straw man. My original remark has *nothing* to do with the gender of the original artists, i'm sorry if you feel the need to twist it that way.
posted by lawrencium at 11:38 PM on February 23, 2016


If some of us need to go back to art school, you need to graduate already.

I actually teach at the local U, Klangston. An art school, no less. Maybe you should consider a night class.

And the stolen pics appear to be from several races and at least two major genders, so those screaming that this is sexism or racism might want to visit their safe space. The artist's ultimate sin is HIS gender and race? God, it's so beautiful.
"Art is made to disturb, science reassures."
- Georges Braque
posted by johnnyace at 11:52 PM on February 23, 2016


"I actually teach at the local U, Klangston. An art school, no less. Maybe you should consider a night class."

Why would I pay money to hear you uncritically laud boring work? You don't seem to be preparing your students to actually engage with issues like the boundaries of appropriation, and I can see twirling for free whenever I want.

"And the stolen pics appear to be from several races and at least two major genders, so those screaming that this is sexism or racism might want to visit their safe space. The artist's ultimate sin is HIS gender and race? God, it's so beautiful."

Yeah, so, you know, the issue is more that Prince is a rich white cis dude doing the appropriating, not that he's not appropriating a diverse enough sample. Which is one of those things that an art prof in the 21st century should be able to suss out if they don't want to treat art school as their safe space to enjoy their privilege.

The artist's sin is boring work and thinking that self-awareness is carte blanche to rip people off — the toady's sin is uncritically lionizing that Zombie Pomo hackery.

And the unstated thesis you seem to be working with — that because Prince's work is raising a controversy and at least a few emphatically don't like it, it must be fulfilling the artistic mission to disturb and thus be 'the best kind' — is forgetting that not every flatus is Le Petomane. Sometimes it's just a fart in an elevator.
posted by klangklangston at 1:37 AM on February 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


"I didn't say the original photos/selfies aren't art, i said they were shit and irrelevant. There's a difference."

Sure. The first would be flatly wrong; the second's just dumb given the context of Donald Graham, whose work has already been exhibited in galleries without Prince's imprimatur. And even then, it's a bitter irony to shit on snapshot aesthetic while tickling Prince's balls for the elevating copy pasta.

"And two or three cars parked under the stars, i resent that straw man. My original remark has *nothing* to do with the gender of the original artists, i'm sorry if you feel the need to twist it that way."

Take your fair cop when it comes, man. Your original comment echoed generations of institutional sexism and ignored that Prince should have to be mindful of that power relationship while tacking up the hashtagprettygirls bullshit of New Portraits. That your original comment didn't, to you, have anything to do with that isn't a defense — it's an admission that you should have thought harder when making it, since you overlooked a pretty big issue in contemporary art.
posted by klangklangston at 1:53 AM on February 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Your original comment echoed generations of institutional sexism

My original comment echoed nothing. I shout "it sucks", you hear "girls suck". If you're going to bend it that way, i'm out.
posted by lawrencium at 2:43 AM on February 24, 2016


[Comment deleted. Please cut out the troll-like commenting, and everyone, chill out and drop the personal stuff.]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:48 AM on February 24, 2016


I think an important point only briefly touched on is what makes this art different from say, recontextualizing Marlboro cigarette ads. When Prince did that he was punching up, showing that banal advertisements could be turned into something more sublime. Those advertisements were crafted by artists as well, but hopefully those artists didn't have delusions regarding the purity of their art, and anyway those artists got paid for their work and had the backing of a powerful system.

This time, Prince is exploiting artists with less privelege, artists who didn't expect their art to cause money to change hands (unless they note the few cents rolling into instagram's coffers). You can talk all about how this is a transformative act and how Prince is elevating the banal, but really, what he's doing is saying "This is Real Art now that I've placed my emoji stamp of approval on it" which is offensive to the extreme.

You wouldnt protest slavery by saying "Look how cruelly I treat all my slaves this is clearly wrong" so don't make a statement about art by saying "Look how shitty these artists are, good thing I'm here to elevate it to Real Art."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:02 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


You can talk all about how this is a transformative act and how Prince is elevating the banal

Rather, I think of it as embiggening the banal.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:38 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


So if you go find photographs other people have taken and put them in a gallery with labels on them, isn't that what a curator does? Except of course for the part where a curator will probably get permission from the photographers.

Couldn't the same artistic goals be achieved by Richard Prince going, "Hey, I want to be a curator for a bit and I'll put together an exhibition of photographers you've probably never heard of."
posted by RobotHero at 7:20 AM on February 24, 2016


So, over the course of years of their lives, girls and women learn how to create compelling images, how to paint, adorn, pose and photograph themselves, collectively forging a distinctive style within the limits of their technology and platform, and it turns out that that's pretty much just garbage. There's no artistry in it! How limited their understanding of what they're doing must be, and besides, they're only doing it for attention. But let some old white guy "discover" it and wrap it up in some worn out aesthetic idea and print it out on some canvas like he just discovered Zazzle.com, and, as if by magic, Art happens.

I just want to echo how critical and insightful this comment is. This project bothers me on a couple levels, with infringement being the first, but I couldn't quite put my finger on the sexism angle, and now that it's been pointed out it's like a neon sign.

Suicide Girls was one of the instagrams this guy raided, and their photography is not just their art but their commerce as well. They earn money from their photography and videography, and have to pay their photographers, make-up artists, etc. This guy comes along, snaps up their photos (granted, posted publically), slaps a couple of emojis on it and makes 1000x what the artists earn for their work. So, he's taking advantage of a sexist society to earn money with basically zero effort off of the labor of women.

He's profiting from and complicit in a horribly sexist culture, and if he's as great and fantastic an artist as some claim, then of course he's fully aware of it, and by extension endorsing it.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:39 AM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


This guy comes along, snaps up their photos (granted, posted publically), slaps a couple of emojis on it and makes 1000x what the artists earn for their work.

See also: Models Re-appropriate Stolen Instagram Images and Sell Them for $90 and Art Flippers Attempt to Unload Suicide Girls' Version of Richard Prince Work.

(I LOL'd. But laughter, like true art, is free. I probably wouldn't pay 90 dollars for a re-appropriated appropriated instie either.)
posted by octobersurprise at 9:05 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


"My original comment echoed nothing. I shout "it sucks", you hear "girls suck". If you're going to bend it that way, i'm out."

Taking your balls and going home?

If you're not aware of the gendered criticisms of selfies, you can google around for about five minutes and find years worth of essays on it. The same basic criticisms also crop up against e.g. Cindy Sherman, and are related to general gendered criticisms of women as "narcissistic" when they're subjects of their own gaze, as opposed to being objects of male gaze. Both you and Prince should be aware of that context if you want to comment on the form.

If you're gonna get petulant and act like this is an illegitimate criticism of your comment, you're going to have to ground your arguments in a naive individualist aesthetic — e.g. "I like what I like" — that is inherently opposed to the sort of critique to which Prince pretends. At that point, that he's making them "relevant" through the critique and shift in context, which requires being aware of the context and asking if the critique is reasonable — since, by all accounts, it's not like the actual canvas prints are aesthetically interesting in their own right either as surface or as process — it's not like he painstakingly repainted the images or manipulated them through printing to give them visual depth (e.g. manipulating the colors and doing a multi-layer dye suspension print, giving them similar color depth to a polaroid).

So we're back to you declaring that they were all shit because they weren't relevant or advancing the form, while ignoring that the most controversial image was a fine art print with a history of licensing, and that complaints of irrelevance and unoriginality are some of the charges traditionally leveled at both selfies (immediately) and female self-representation (historically). And instead of learning or trying to engage when you get challenged on your opinion, you bail and disengage. I'm afraid johnnyace might dock your participation points.
posted by klangklangston at 10:58 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Prince's work here relies almost zero on the inherent aesthetic qualities of the original photos and almost entirely on the recontextualization, such that claiming that the conversation revolves around the individual photographers' work having been 'made "relevant"' misses the point. What I respond to in this work is the recontextualization of the Instagram experience -- a firehose of images, constantly updated, never revisited -- into the gallery experience, which is static and, through cultural contrivance, demands a sort of reverent close attention to the particulars of the images. In other words, at least as I take it, Prince's work is not capitalizing in any way on how any of the individual photos look -- whether they are banal or interesting, cliched or original, intimate or commercial -- but rather interrogating how they (and their millions of fellows on Instagram) are viewed in their original context (treated by necessity as disposable, barely glanced at, each as a tiny fragment of a huge and ever-changing whole) by relocating them.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:14 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


But since there are already literally shit-tons of instagram to canvas shows out there (I saw three calls for entry in LA last fall alone), and since Prince is grounding it in his comment on the instagrams, the recontextualization is trite — and that's before we even get to the Babylon move of the copy pasta rasta. Basically, all Prince is bringing to the recontextualization is Prince and Gagosian, and that Koonzy the-commercialization-is-the-art has been a jack-off for over thirty years now — the art dick is rubbed raw, and there's no joy there. Even putting this up is showing Prince to be in his Paul Masson Wine era.
posted by klangklangston at 11:39 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Nota bene: I didn't have any of my comments deleted as far as I can tell, and I'm having fun here too. But if you send me a Memail and want a response, I can only do that if you have your memail on too.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:40 AM on February 24, 2016


I don't think I've presented here as saying that this is fresh, amazing work. If I have, I did not mean to. I'm not a huge fan of Prince's stuff in general; but whether it is new in scope has nothing to do with the work's relationship to the original photos, which is what I have been arguing here.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:56 AM on February 24, 2016


MetaFilter: the art dick is rubbed raw, and there's no joy there

This appropriation art comment can be purchased for $90,000.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


but rather interrogating how they (and their millions of fellows on Instagram) are viewed in their original context

I'm pretty sure Price is aiming for something just like this (beyond and besides all the other controversy) and sure, as a gallery experience—which I can't comment on having only seen these pieces online—it might evoke ruminations on the disposable nature of images in the modern info enviroment—in the same way a well chosen exhibit of re-purposed advertisements might elicit similar feelings of a kind of disposable awe—Kapoor's remark on the shiny as the modern sublime* comes to mind here—but even that's a bit trite as an organizing principle and the use of found internet pictures, as klang says, isn't novel, either.
*"In terms of the fact that the traditional sublime is the matte surface, deep and absorbing, and that the shiny might be a modern sublime, which is fully reflective, absolutely present, and returns the gaze. This feels like a new way to think about the non-objective object."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:25 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


" don't think I've presented here as saying that this is fresh, amazing work. If I have, I did not mean to. I'm not a huge fan of Prince's stuff in general; but whether it is new in scope has nothing to do with the work's relationship to the original photos, which is what I have been arguing here."

Gotcha. I disagree a bit, in part because the underlying materials of appropriation do matter to me in terms of evaluating the work — the recontextualization that happens from Duchamp's urinal to the reprinted screencaps of Google street view, they work in part because of the aesthetic qualities of the underlying sampled material. So the novelty of scope depends, for me, both on the relationship between the materials to their presentation as well as the presentation's relationship to other similar works. And because the basic comment seems to be something that art olds have maundered since Geocities, it's hard to see this as anything but Prince saying, "Yes, but what if I did it?" To which, so what Grandpa Tryhard? The only difference is that the resale value of a Prince™ is much higher, which is great for him but shitty for everyone else.

Again, I think that a lot of Prince's earlier work was pretty great, but that this is late-period hack work at best.
posted by klangklangston at 4:14 PM on February 24, 2016


I think Prince's work here relies almost zero on the inherent aesthetic qualities of the original photos and almost entirely on the recontextualization,

I'm not terribly convinced that the exhibit would work without reasonably attractive images. The 90k "painting" referred to in the post was a posed, planned and edited portrait of a pretty woman. That is obviously the biggest part of why it sold. There's a reason he happened to choose a lot of images made by professional photographers.
posted by smidgen at 4:34 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


As an artist, with friends who are artists/writers/photographers, I would be devastated if my work was appropriated, sold for thousands/millions and received no credit or compensation.

My fulltime artist friends are constantly fighting traceovers, manips and knock-offs of their works.

Recently, one friend saw her art in a 'as seen on tv' commercial for a coloring book.
posted by dreamling at 7:29 PM on February 24, 2016


I am genuinely curious what makes this stuff worth 6 figures

Someone willing to pay 6 figures for it.

Hats off to this guy, he’s got a schtick and it’s profitable. I’m far too lazy to do it.

I’m always surprised at how much people want to argue about whether something is art or not, and not whether it’s good or not. There seems to be a huge hesitancy to call anything crap if it’s been deemed real art, so the criticism must be that it’s not real art. It must be that 90% of everything sucks, except art.
posted by bongo_x at 12:39 AM on February 25, 2016


I'm not arguing whether it's art, I'm arguing whether it's art by Richard Prince.
posted by RobotHero at 7:09 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


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