Maybe! Because he definitely took a bunch of photos from Instagram users without permission and put them in a gallery for $100,000 a pop.
He makes it "his" by adding a comment. Internet comments: literally the laziest cultural commentary an artist can provide. (via Gagosian Gallery)
Appropriation will always be part of art. But there's a difference between sampling a song and building on it, for example, and just straight-up taking an entire piece without permission. Especially when it's from individuals. Who, in some cases, are trying to make a living off art-based careers of their own. But that's what Totally Great And Awesome Guy Richard Prince did for his exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery in 2014.
Why are we just hearing about this now? Because the exhibition was previously private. Maybe because he knew what a dick he was being?
If you took a contemporary art class in college, you might remember Richard Prince — he's the guy who took pictures of Marlboro ads in the 1980s. As MOCA puts it, "In appropriating these images, Prince draws attention to the way in which the identity and history of this American icon and the American West have been meticulously constructed for the buy-in of the American consumer." That's kind of a cool idea. But it's one thing to rephotograph advertisements from the super-rich and notoriously jerkish cigarette industry, and another thing entirely to take the photographs from individuals. Some of the individuals were famous celebrities, and you could maybe even convince me that there's relevant cultural commentary in that. But other images were from much-less-well-known people like Doe Deere:
Figured I might as well post this since everyone is texting me. Yes, my portrait is currently displayed at the Frieze Gallery in NYC. Yes, it's just a screenshot (not a painting). No, I did not give my permission and yes, the controversial artist Richard Prince put it up anyway. It's already sold ($90K I've been told) during the VIP preview. No, I'm not gonna go after him. And nope, I have no idea who ended up with it! #lifeisstrange #modernart #wannabuyaninstagrampicture
A photo posted by Doe Deere (@doedeere) on
According to PetaPixel, "Some new artworks were being exhibited and sold at the Frieze Art Fair in NYC recently," which is how many found out about the works — include Doe above. If you're interested in deepening your annoyance with Mr. Prince, check out this piece on him from Artnews, appropriately titled "Richard Prince Sucks."