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Peter Schjeldahl on Richard Prince

Richard Prince "Untitled" 1983
Richard Prince, "Untitled," 1983, c-type color photograph.
The Joker: Richard Prince at the Guggenheim

The New Yorker's head art critic Peter Schjeldahl pens a review of the massive Richard Prince retrospective currently going on at the Guggenheim. Schjeldahl bares some rather conservative teeth; he seems as enthused about Prince's 80s media-crit and appropriation work as if little has happened since, but admonishes the artist for his more recent expressive painting and art about art. Opening with an anecdotal story about Prince's refusal to exhibit in the decisive 1977 Pictures show in response to the curator's dogmatism, Schjeldahl relates the story perhaps as some cue to the artist's defiant, and later juvenile, sensibilities. So why does Schjeldahl mind the new work so much? Perhaps he feels a little uncomfortable with the exhibition platform offered to such a decidedly contrary artist, who at one point, happily without representation, had to be convinced by Barbara Gladstone that he might benefit from working with an art dealer. Or maybe he simply doesn't have a taste for the artist's new output. His text-pieces and "joke" art do after all seem uncomfortably similar to some more recent output by Mel Bochner and Sean Landers. Or, perhaps, the critic simply doesn't see the utter hilarity in those hideous, "vulgarized" figure works, evocative of de Kooning only in the most sarcastic sense.