Richard Prince (born 1949)
Born in in the U.S.-controlled Panama Canal Zone, (now part of Republic of Panama) Prince is an American painter and photographer. His works have often been the subject of debates within the art world. Trained as a figure painter, Prince began creating collages containing photographs in 1975. His image, ‘Untitled (Cowboy), a rephotograph constructed from cigarette advertisements, was the first ‘photograph’ to raise more than $1 million at auction when it was sold at Christie’s New York in 2005, despite violating numerous copyright laws.
Starting in 1977, Prince created controversy by re-photographing four photographs which previously appeared in the New York Times. Within the art world, this became part of a major discussion concerning authorship and authenticity of photographic images, as well as photographic copyright issues. This continued into 1983, when his work Spiritual America featured Garry Gross’s photo of Brooke Shields at the age of 10, standing in a bathtub, as an allusion to precocious sexuality and to the Alfred Stieglitz photograph by the same name. The display of this image led to lawsuits by Shields’ mother and the original photographer, and led to further discussion within the art community, concerning the role of voyeurism within photography. His Jokes series (beginning 1986) concerns the sexual fantasies and sexual frustrations of middle-class America, using stand-up comedy and burlesque humour.
After living in New York City for 25 years, Prince moved to upstate New York. His minimuseum, Second House, was owned by the Guggenheim Museum, but was hit by lightning and burned down after being up for only six years from 2001 to 2007.