The artist, Richard Prince. All pictures by Caroline Claisse for Art Observed.
Art Observed was on site for the opening “American Prayer” featuring works by American artist Richard Prince at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. A book enthusiast and collector of American pop culture and counter culture ephemera, on view are works by the artist relating to American literature books, a consistent source of inspiration and a material he often incorporates into his oeuvre. The exhibit includes two examples of his famous “Nurse” paintings from his personal collection presented to the public for the first time.
More text and images after the jump…
An avid book collector for nearly forty years, Prince has compiled an incredible assemblage of works from what he terms the “BeatHippiePunk” era dating from the time of his birth in 1949 to 1984. The artist’s thorough collection begins with classics from the “Beats” such as Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs and also includes works by Nabokov and J.D. Salinger. Other works on display include a manuscript of The Godfather by Mario Puzo; Jimi Hendrix’s hand-written letters home to his father when he was in the army; Kerouac’s letters to Malcom Cowley, the editor of On the Road; works by Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey, and Thomas Pynchon.
The title “American Prayer” is taken from a book of poems by Jim Morrison. Seven years after the singer’s death “An American Prayer” became the title of a posthumous album of poetry recorded to music by the Doors. On display are 40 works from his American / English series, sculptures which refer to the first American and English editions of his favorite books and 24 Untitled (original)s reverts back to paperback’s original cover art. Also exhibited is a selection of the artist’s work from series such as Publicities, Gangs, Cartoons, and Hoods which pay homage to some of the most important works from twentieth century American literature.
The exhibition also includes a “Reading Room” whereby guests can examine a conceptual understanding of the relationship between art and text in the modern age. The room displays iPads and livres ireel next to precious books by James Joyce and Louis Ferdinand Celine in a seemingly art installation which plays with the viewer’s understanding of art, text, and American subcultures.
Richard Prince: American Prayer [Bibliotheque National de France]
Richard Prince: An American in Paris [The Independent]
Richard Prince “American Prayer” at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France [Gagosian Gallery]