Wednesday, January 30

Did anyone notice these two things?

In the early 2000s, Christian Viveros-Faune wrote art criticism for the New York Press while he codirected the gallery Roebling Hall in Williamsburg. He was the only reason for me to ever pick up that newspaper. Except for the I Saw You classifieds, which have morphed into the better-known Missed Connections on Craigslist. And I lost interest in reading those a long time ago. Back to CVF: I do not recall reading a blog post that mentioned his tenure at the New York Press and the much more obvious appearance of a conflict of interest there.

Spiritual America: just about every photograph in that show was labeled “Exhibition Copy” or something like that. There wasn't a single “original” Richard Prince photograph in that museum—they were all copies that were probably destroyed after the exhibition. (Prince has always produced his photographic work in editions of two.) So here was a major retrospective in a major world museum that, for a large part of the show, displayed facsimiles of the artist’s work. I cannot recall a single review that mentioned this. Is the joke on us now?

Here’s a related story from two years ago, perhaps posted two years too late:

On November 8, 2005, the first photograph to sell for more than a million dollars at auction was sold at Christie’s in New York. Richard Prince’s large Ektacolor print, Untitled (Cowboy), an edition of two from 1989, sold for the princely sum of $1,248,000 to Stellan Holm, a New York art dealer. The previous auction record for an individual photograph was set two years before, at Christie’s in London. On May 20, 2003, a daguerreotype taken in 1842 by the French traveler, artist, and historian, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, of the Athenian Temple on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, sold for $922,488. The aforementioned image is valuable for its age; the image was taken three years after the invention of photography.

Such a high price for a photograph may be attributed to market whims. Prince’s stock in the art world has risen in recent years, enough to position the artist as number five on the top artists list of ArtReview magazine’s annual Power 100, released in November 2005, where he was previously unranked. Recent high-profile exhibitions at Barbara Gladstone Gallery in New York, work displayed in international art fairs, paintings appearing on a record cover, and interviews with or conducted by Prince in Artforum magazine have made him and his work on the tips of tongues. And Untitled (Cowboy), a large 50 x 70 inches, benefits from have the second edition in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the artist’s current market trendiness is not at issue here. In a larger sense, such a feat—the one million dollar mark—should have been cause for celebration for those who have tirelessly championed photography as art, but when considering the photograph in question—a tossed-off snapshot of a magazine page—an uneasiness sinks in.


Anonymous said...

i saw one.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to know that I am not the only one to notice. I would think that at least one reviewer would mention the fact that Prince's exhibition was comprised largely of facsimiles--not to launch into a tirade about the market (BORING!) but rather as a description of a key element of the exhibition.