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Collections Browse Cowboys and Girlfriends

Image Rights
Courtesy Walker Art Center
Copyright retained by the artist


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Cowboys and Girlfriends
each of fourteen 20 × 24 × inches
Ektacolor print
Not on view

Object Details

Photographs (Photographs)
Accession Number
AP from the edition A-Z
in black ink on the rev. of ea. print “RP” in white ink on inside portfolio cover BR “R Prince 1992”; in white ink on inside portfolio cover BR “ap”
Physical Description
A series of three photographs of “Marlboro Men” and nine photographs of women poising on motorcycles. An index print of each series (men and women) shows all of the images on one sheet.
Aaron Klein at Ultimate Image, New York, Box made by Judity Ivry
Credit Line
T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2000

object label Richard Prince, Cowboys and Girlfriends (1992) Walker Art Center, 2000

Richard Prince began his career in the early 1970s as a figurative painter, but soon abandoned this practice for photography. Along with a generation of artists that included Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, and Cindy Sherman, Prince took conceptual photography to another level in the 1980s, directly appropriating materials from mass culture for use in his work. His best-known photographs were deadpan images he rephotographed from such sources as watch advertisements, New Yorker cartoons, and hot-rod and surfer publications. This redefinition of art and photography raised important questions about the ownership of public images, the location of the author, and the nature of invention itself.

In Cowboys and Girlfriends, Prince explores pervasive images from American culture. The works on view here relate to two larger series of photographs he made in the 1980s. The archetypal cowboy images, though cropped, are reproduced facsimiles of originals from Marlboro advertisements. The artist began rephotographing them after the company became the target of an antismoking campaign and was forced to stop using its famous model, the Marlboro Man. In Prince’s rendition, this “true American” is ironically turned from a hero into a survivor. The Girlfriends pictures in this series are appropriated from ads placed by women in biker magazines. Rephotographed by the artist and enlarged, the womens’ self-portraits reveal a fascinating commentary on gender, self-promotion, and the culture of desire.

These works join four others by Prince in the Walker’s collection, reflecting the museum’s commitment to in-depth acquisition of work by influential American artists.

Label text for Richard Prince, Cowboys and Girlfriends (1992), from the exhibition State of the Art: Recent Gifts and Acquisitions, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, July 22-October 8, 2000.

Copyright 2000 Walker Art Center