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RICHARD PRINCE (b. 1949)

 
RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in. RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in. RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in. RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in. RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in. RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in. RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in. RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in. RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in. RICHARD PRINCE - Untitled (Cowboy) - c-print - 61 x 91 in.
Untitled (Cowboy)201661 x 91 in.(154.94 x 231.14 cm) c-print
Provenance
Private Collection, acquired directly from the artist
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“With the cowboy ads, I could do something that felt almost like a still from a film. And I really loved the idea of suspension of disbelief when you went to the movies.” – Richard Prince

History

The cowboy, epitome of the American rugged individualist, has been a career-long fascination for Richard Prince and inspired the works that made him famous. In the mid-1970s, Prince was employed in the Time-Life tear sheet department, where it was his job to strip the text from magazines. After he collated hard copy editorial material for the writers, he was left with a tattered group of glossy adverts. Prince collected the images, sorted them, and sought patterns between. Soon enough he had files full of Salem, Newport, Marlboro ads.

Life magazine chose Texas cowboy Clarence Hailey Long for the cover in 1949, which publicized Leonard McCombe’s photo-essay on ranching in the American West. The weather-worn face staring past readers with a cigarette fixed between his lips caused a sensation. Long and friends became standard-bearers of male authenticity. Not long after, in 1954, adman Leo Burnett dreamed up the Marlboro Man ad campaign. For four decades, the cowboy writ large convinced the country that they too could be manly as he, if only they smoked his brand cigarette. Ads stirred belief, and nostalgia. Intentionally, the campaign ran during war-torn decades steeped in pessimism about the future. The cowboy was the heroic spirit of a vanishing era.

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    Richard Prince, “Untitled (cowboy)”, 2016, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
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    Richard Prince, “Untitled (cowboy)”, 2016, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
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    Richard Prince, “Untitled (cowboy)”, 1989
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    LIFE Magazine, 22 August 1949 with cowboy C. H. Long © Photo: Leonard McCombe

RICHARD PRINCE AT LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART

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    Richard Prince, “Untitled (cowboy)”, 2016, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented an exhibition of Richard Prince’s Untitled (Cowboy) series in 2017-2018. The show featured two of Prince’s photographic series from the 2010s, including works from 2016 comparable to our piece. Highlighting the importance of this series to Prince’s ongoing examination of ownership and innovation, LACMA explored the artist’s cowboy series of re-photographed advertisements: “Extending his interrogation of this particular American protagonist into the era of Instagram, Prince demonstrates that the stakes around originality, appropriation, and truth in advertising are as high as ever.”

MORE INFORMATION

“The things about those ads was that it wasn’t a cowboy you were seeing. It was a model. But the model might be a real cowboy, acting like a cowboy. It was making itself up.” – Richard Prince

Top Results at Auction

"Runaway Nurse" (2005-2006), inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 110 ¼ x 66 in. Sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong: 18 June 2021 for $12,107,229
“Runaway Nurse” (2005-2006), inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 110 ¼ x 66 in. Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong: 18 June 2021 for $12,107,229
"Nurse of Greenmeadow" (2005-2006), inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 110 ¼ x 66 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 11 May 2014 for $8,565,000
“Nurse of Greenmeadow” (2005-2006), inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 110 ¼ x 66 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 11 May 2014 for $8,565,000
"Overseas. Nurse" (2002), ink jet print and acrylic on canvas, 93 by 56in. Sold at Sotheby’s London: 01 July 2008 for $ 8,452,000
“Overseas. Nurse” (2002), ink jet print and acrylic on canvas, 93 by 56in. Sold at Sotheby’s London: 01 July 2008 for $ 8,452,000

Comparable Works Sold at Auction

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (2000), Ektacolor print, edition 2/2, 52 by 72 1/2 in. Sold at Christie's New York: 11 May 2021 for 2,190,000
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (2000), Ektacolor print, edition 2/2, 52 by 72 1/2 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 11 May 2021 for 2,190,000
  • The most recent sale of a comparable “Untitled (Cowboy)” at auction, this slightly smaller piece with a strong image of a single cowboy sold for nearly $2.2M in May 2021.

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (1997), Ektacolor photograph, artist proof, 47 3/4 by 77 in. Sold at Sotheby's New York: 10 May 2016 for $3,525,000
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (1997), Ektacolor photograph, artist proof, 47 3/4 by 77 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 10 May 2016 for $3,525,000
  • This stunning multiple cowboy image from 1997 is among the finest examples of Richard Prince’s Cowboy series. 

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (1997), Ektacolor photograph, numbered 1/2, 49 1/8 by 76 in. Sold at Sotheby's New York: 17 November 2019 for $1,452,500
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (1997), Ektacolor photograph, numbered 1/2, 49 1/8 by 76 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 17 November 2019 for $1,452,500
  • Similar composition to Untitled (Cowboy) (2016), both employ a more distant perspective to incorporate the Western landscape. 

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (2012), Inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 73 1/2 by 48 1/4 in. Sold at Sotheby's New York: 17 May 2019 for $2,780,000
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (2012), Inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 73 1/2 by 48 1/4 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 17 May 2019 for $2,780,000
  • Like Untitled (Cowboy) (2016), this 2012 work simultaneously explores the theme of American individualism and consumer culture through the appropriation of the Marlboro cowboy character. 

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (1999), acrylic on canvas, 90½ x 50½ in. Sold at Christie's New York: 12 November 2008 for $1,482,500
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (1999), acrylic on canvas, 90½ x 50½ in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 12 November 2008 for $1,482,500
  • Untitled (Cowboy) (1999) shares a similar scale to the work currently available at Heather James Fine Art.  These large format works reflect the American Western landscape’s vastness and the large characters that have lived there. 

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (2012), inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 67 1/8 by 40 1/4 in. Sold at Sotheby's New York: 18 November 2016 for $1,452,500
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (2012), inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 67 1/8 by 40 1/4 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 18 November 2016 for $1,452,500
  • The horse and horseback travel are synonymous with the American West and its lore. Both Untitled (Cowboy) (2012) and Untitled (Cowboy) (2016) feature the horse as a symbol of the mythology of the “Wild West.”

Art in Museum Collections

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (1989), chromogenic print, 50 x 70 in., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (1989), chromogenic print, 50 x 70 in., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • Perhaps Richard Prince’s most iconic “Cowboy”, the 1989 work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is a cornerstone of their Contemporary Art collection

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (2016), Los Angeles County Museum of Art
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (2016), Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Featured in the 2018 LACMA exhibition, this work is now included in the Museum’s permanent collection.

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (1986), chromogenic print, edition number 2 of 2, 26 1/2 x 39 1/2 in., The Art Institute of Chicago
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (1986), chromogenic print, edition number 2 of 2, 26 1/2 x 39 1/2 in., The Art Institute of Chicago
  • The Richard Prince at the Art Institute Chicago shares both the same medium and edition size as the piece currently offered at Heather James Fine Art. 

"Untitled (Cowboy)" (1991-1992), chromogenic print, 49 1/4 x 70 5/8 in., The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
“Untitled (Cowboy)” (1991-1992), chromogenic print, 49 1/4 x 70 5/8 in., The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Acquired at the time of the work’s creation by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Untitled (Cowboy) shares the same subject as the work available at Heather James Fine Art. 

Image Gallery

Additional Resources

WATCH: An enlightening interview with Richard Prince hosted by the Guggenheim Museum, New York.
READ: A 1988 Magazine interview with Richard Prince in BOMB Magazine
VISIT: The 2009 exhibition, “Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York prominently featured Richard Prince.

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