July 28th, 2012 5-8PM, Eric Doeringer, Cowboy Photography Workshop @Printed Matter, New York.
"Photographs have lives, and these, in particular, have a very curious life." -SamAbell
Prince began appropriating photographs in 1975. The series Untitled (Cowboy) launched Prince into fame. Doeringer began appropriating artworks in 2001 his Bootleg series pushed his art career into overdrive. At a Christie’s auction in 2005, a Prince "re-photograph" was sold for more than $1 million. In 2009 at Philips auction, a group of Doeringer’s Bootlegs sold for almost $10,000. An argument can be made that either way both prices are highly inflated.
"I had limited technical skills regarding the camera. Actually I had no skills. I played the camera. I used a cheap commercial lab to blow up the pictures. I made editions of two. I never went into a darkroom." admits Prince in a 2003 interview with Steve Lafreiniere from Artforum.
Untitled (Cowboy), by Eric Doeringer, is a "re-photograph" of a "re-photograph" by Richard Prince. Richard Prince "re- photographed" his after the photographer Sam Abell, who shot a campaign for Marlboro under the creative director Leo Burnett, and Burnett was originally “inspired” by an even older campaign which ran in Life magazine by photographer, Leonard McCombe in the 1940s. A curious life indeed.
The Marlboro Man, or Cowboy in this case, represented an idealized male, embodying the very essence of American masculinity. Prince would crop the images to eliminate all advertising copy, and enlarge the photographs, transforming commercial photography into fine art, and ultimately converting a sales pitch into a romanticized narrative. Doeringer created his 2011 rendition of Princes' Untitled (Cowboy) by obtaining vintage magazines copies of the same advertisements used by Prince. He photographed them himself, cropping and printing the pictures at the same scale as the Princes’.The subjects of both Prince and Doeringers’ “re-photographs” are not their own. They are completely unauthorized copies. But in this compounded situation, the question of ownership is in many ways itself, the artwork. A sixty year long performance of sorts in which the concept has taken on it’s own personification. Questioning it’s own existence and purpose. Being interpreted and reinterpreted. Handled with an almost conceptualist dead-pan approach regardless of fine or commercial intent.
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