Mining images from mass media, advertising, and entertainment, Richard Prince questions notions of authorship and ownership in his work. During the late 1970s, he began working in New York at the Time-Life publishing company in the tear-sheets department, which provides advertisers with pages cut from a publication to prove that their advertisement was published. Prince recalled, “At the end of the day, all I was left with was the advertising images, and it became my subject.” During the early 1980s, Prince began re-photographing magazine ads featuring the Marlboro Man; this resulted in a series of Cowboy works, of which Untitled (Cowboys) is one. In appropriating these images, Prince draws attention to the way in which the identity and history of this American icon and the American West have been meticulously constructed for the buy-in of the American consumer.
Richard Prince (b. 1949, Panama Canal Zone; lives and works in Upstate New York)
Untitled (Cowboys), 1980–84
27 x 40 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Purchased with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and Councilman Joel Wachs