Richard Prince at the Serpentine

In keeping with tradition we go to see a show that’s been on for months on the final weekend. I love Richard Prince but the show is disappointing. There isn’t enough work for a start and what’s in there is pretty patchy and tries to explain the Prince phenomena within the traditional language of art production, namely a selection of different pieces from different bodies of work. I saw some of the nurse paintings at Sadie Coles in 2003 as well as the earlier Publicities and one of the things that struck me is Prince isn’t simply about appropriation but about serial appropriation. He doesn’t just borrow something the once, he borrows it over and over again which makes the impact all the greater. Publicitiesin particular is for me an archetypal Prince show – he does almost nothing that sits in the realm of what we still think an artist does: he chooses some pictures from his own stash, has them framed and in a few cases embellishes them with (almost certainly faked) celebrity autographs. This isn’t to say that there isn’t an acceptable face to Richard Prince – he paints as well as anyone and there’s a reassuring intelligence at work – it’s just that this isn’t the most interesting one.

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