RICHARD PRINCE: Early Photography, 1977–87 : Gagosian

Such a thrill to see these works in the flesh!

My memory of how I first stumbled upon the artist is blurry, but even in London in the mid-80s among me & my non-art-world friends, we were somehow aware of the controversy of “Spiritual America” aka Garry Gross's naked photo of 14-year-old Brooke Shields. Though it was his re-photographed Marlboro cigarette ads that I cut out of magazines & saw as ART. I don't know if I knew or cared about his name yet. 

I don’t remember if I bought the two books published in 1988 by The Deste Foundation, (a Greek art organization) in London, or when I moved here in 1989. One of the books shows work by John Dogg (a Prince pseudonym) & I think that’s when I started to search out his work in galleries.

Not only did I discover Prince’s name in these two books, but a slew of other artists became important to me because of them. The books, Artifical Nature & Cultural Geometry were curated by NYC’s very own Jeffery Deitch & when I reached out to him a few years ago to ask if he might contribute some text for my upcoming Stickers book, he was impressed that I had these early works of his.

When I first started working & living in NY, there were these African guys who sold art books on the streets of Soho. My copy of, "Adult Comedy Action Drama" was bought from them for $25. I was friendy with the maître d’ at a restaurant we used to eat at, who told me that Prince was a regular, so I left my book with them & they kindly had RP sign it.

I do know that from the early '90s & in the late '90s when I was working for Warner Bros & Ministry of Sound in those final days of record biz excess & fat paychecks, original Richard Prince art has always been beyond my reach. Thankfully, like me, he’s a book nerd. Not just a crazy collector but a producer/publisher of books like no other artist! There are still titles that are so rare I will never be able to add them to the pile, but with the collection I’ve amassed, including the ones I’ve had signed by knowing (or stalking) the right person, I’m doing fine.

Of the ones that sell for hundreds, rather than thousands, GIRLFRIENDS, BETTIE KLINE & DE KOONING are titles I've been searching charity & used books stores for a long time, so If you know of anyone who collects or trades art books, I’m not someone who only cares about perfect condition books (because they are too expensive if mint!) but always open to trades.