It's a Free Concert, Man
Throughout his oeuvre, as diverse as obscure, Richard Prince has always held a special spot for rock n’ roll. Gangs, rockers, and girlfriends intertwine with symbolic memorabilia, in a lively interplay between appropriated photographic imagery and provocative context.
Coming ‘on stage’ once again at Kunsthaus Bregenz in a solo act, Prince is putting on a Free Concert, evoking some of the most significant and most symbolic rock stars and objects inherently tied to the subculture. Glory of old-timers merges with up-beat of doo-wop record covers, while lizard kings, guitar gods and grease lightnings gaze back into the observers’ very souls, reminding the public – rock n’ roll is not dead yet!
It’s a Free Concert, so naturally everybody wanna go, especially knowing that a number of Prince’s works at the show is having a premiere in front of the wider audience. Opened on July 19, the exhibition will remain on view throughout the summer, ending on October 5, 2014.
Pics, Cars and Rock N’ Roll
Following the thematics perfectly embodied in the title of the show, the museum installation of Prince at Kunsthaus Bregenz pays homage to the rockers’ culture, referencing the biggest figures of the genre from Elvis, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morisson, to doo wop bands from the very early r’n’r era.
Central spot in the exhibit is given to cars, the icons of the 70s era, Chevrolet El Camino and Buick Grand National, both symbolic of the omni-American desire for freedom. They are epitomes of rebellion, of the unconventional movement supported by the music, the instant reminiscences of sex in the back seat, the Beatniks’ ride for the road. They bear evocative titles, as Galaxy, The Doors or Elvis, alluding to both the car type and the stars, while essentially conveying the same message.
Even the small scale pieces carry the spirit of rebellion, in which the artist combines ‘regular’ DVD stickers and salacious covers of pornographic movies. Banality of his works is never outrageously vulgar, but well-balanced and contemplative, guiding he thought into the broader discourse.
Incorporating music, cultural movement and art into his objects, Richard Prince discloses the complexity of the American pop culture. His pieces are readable and familiar in Europe as anywhere else in the West, which substantially underlines the US street culture global influence, portraying its seductive nature and buoyant energy.
Being the first large and comprehensive exhibition of the American artist in an Austrian art institution, It’s a Free Concert presents the scope of Richard Prince’s body of work, as well as its fundamental concepts.
Slightly predating the Free Concert, Richard Prince created special billboards for the Kunsthaus Bregenz. These outdoor paste-ups are created upon his Untitled piece from 2010, presenting digitally enhanced and multiplied reproduction photograph from Woodstock Festival 1969, bringing back the climax of the hippie movement to contemporary Austrians.
Richard Prince’s body of work encompasses every media while rendering American mythology, continuously unapologetic from his Jokes and Car Hoods series, to Girlfriends and Gangs, testifying to the importance of the role the artist holds in the American postmodern art.