Since the late 1970s, Prince has been mining images from mass media, advertising, and entertainment. Working in the tear-sheet department at TIME/LIFE in New York, he took magazine ads for jewelry, furniture, fashion, and cigarettes, and gave them new potency by cropping, removing ad copy from the images, reshooting black and white images on color film, and configuring them in generic groups. With these “rephotographs”, he redefined the artistic act and its related concepts of authorship, ownership, and the aura of the image. Applying his understanding of the complex transactions of representation to the making of art, he has crafted a unique signature filled with echoes of other signatures but that is unquestionably his own.
An exhibition, that opened yesterday at the Gagosian gallery in Hong Kong, explores the role and representation of women in the male imaginary and in American culture, a principal theme in Prince’s oeuvre since the outset of his career and one that is charged with ambiguity and provocation. By locating, appropriating, and manipulating popular depictions of feminine types – from the aloof fashion model and the glamorous celebrity to the fetishistic nurse and the bold biker girlfriend - Prince explores how visual definitions of gender form in popular culture through repetition and reiteration. Gleaned from a variety of highbrow, lowbrow, and subcultural sources, Prince’s women abound with a diversity of stereotyped erotic appeal.
On view until July 16, 2011 www.gagosian.com