Richard Prince and the Cowboy

Richard Prince came of age as an artist in a consumer and commodity-driven world, and his (re)use of commercial advertisements speaks to his interest in pushing boundaries of authorship and authenticity. His Cowboy series was an appropriation of the Texas Cowboy featured in Marlboro Man advertisements of the 1940s and ‘50s: struck by the artifice of advertisement, he re-processed and regurgitated the images in an exaggerated manner, blurring the lines of artistic ownership and originality. The message of Richard Prince’s Cowboy series is subtle but profound and just as true in the Instagram generation as it was in the Pictures Generation.

Like Prince, Andy Warhol also took newspaper and magazine images to re-create images, in Warhol’s case, of celebrities and figures of popular culture. Warhol offset the screen-printing layers and used highly saturated colors to intentionally skew Marilyn Monroe’s portrait from naturalism into a depersonalized object of Hollywood mass media.

Cindy Sherman also utilized popular media—film/video in particular—to make statements about social constructions of gender and identity.

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