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Richard Prince's next act: "Portraits" taken from Instagram

Howard Halle

For more than 30 years, Richard Prince has elevated theft to a high-art form, and has done pretty well by it, too: His appropriated images of biker chicks, the Marlboro Man, Brooke Shields and other bits of cultural detritus have fetched millions. Sure, there have been a few bumps along the way, like copyright suits, but these were easily brushed aside by high-powered lawyers. For his current show at Gagosian Gallery, he turns to Instagram as a source for a series of "Portraits." Basically, he crawled the social media site for subjects famous (Kate Moss) or simply fame-hungry (one nightcoregirl doing a Miley Cyrus wagging tongue impression), adding his comments (sometimes as emoticons) before taking screenshots which were later enlarged and printed onto canvases measuring 65 3/4 x 48 3/4 inches—perfect for hanging over the couch. A consummate connoisseur of pop narcissism, Prince definitely hits a mother-lode of exhibitionism and TMI in these latest works. As far as copyright goes, he probably has nothing to worry about from Instagram. But if you're inclined to appropriate his appropriations for some reason, please keep in mind that they are subject to copyright.


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