WILD WEST: RICHARD PRINCE’S “COWBOYS” AT GAGOSIAN GALLERY BEVERLY HILLS
Few things could be more of a surefire mega-moneymaker for art world puppet master Larry Gagosian than to stage a show of large scale pop art cowboy paintings in the wild west town of Los Angeles. Here, self-styled movie industry cowboys & girls are the big guns, shelling out massive sums for huge canvases to brighten up their vast expanses of open wall space. Hence, it should come as no surprise that Hollywood’s biggest players pulled every string at their disposal to score one of the Technicolor trophies on display at Richard Prince’s current show at Gagosian Gallery, “Cowboys” (on display till April 6th), to brighten up their next Beverly Hills dinner party. First gaining notoriety for his exploitation of cowboy imagery with his appropriated Marlboro Man photographs in the ’90s, Prince has returned with this show to mine the source for further riches in the form of 33 large, psychedelic visages of the rugged frontier types who settled this town in the first place. In the vein of his most popular series of nurse paintings, Prince sourced his cowboys from the covers of vintage pulp men’s magazines which were then scanned and printed onto canvases accompanied by instructions for his painting assistants who then lavished them with a palette of bright color seemingly ripped from this season’s summer fashion runways. Which is not to say that these aren’t beautiful, covet-worthy objects. They are, and then some. In fact, for all the cynical bluster espoused in the former paragraphs, this remains one of our favorite bodies of Prince’s work to date for its sheer eye candy factor. But in the end, this series amounts to little more than gorgeous set decoration for Hollywood’s A-list and as the secondary market becomes flooded with them in the next five years, we’ll see if they remain as timeless as the grizzled frontiersmen they deify. Of course, with Larry Gagosian himself controlling that market, you can bet they’ll never be this cheap again…
Read the LA Times show review here
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