Appropriation artist Richard Prince prints out other people’s Instagram photos, which he then sells. His most recent “work” was a print of an Ivanka Trump selfie, bought by art collector Ivanka herself for $35,000.
Upon discovering the identity of the purchaser, multimillionaire Prince goes into full-on righteous indignation, let’s-use-this-as-an-opportunity-raise-my-already-high-profile mode:
“This is not my work. I did not make it. I deny. I denounce. This fake art.” …”I’ve disowned the work. The work is no longer mine.”
Prince’s denunciation sends some in the artistic community into raptures:
This single gesture contains a lot, and works on a lot of levels — some of them almost alchemical. First, in disowning one of his own works to protest its new owners, Prince placed himself in a rare company. I can think of a couple contemporary artists who took similar steps, among them minimalist sculptor Donald Judd, who famously disowned a number of pieces owned by the megacollector Italian count Giuseppe Panza after Judd declared that the collector had violated terms of their agreement.
But he may not be in such rarefied territory for long. It goes without saying that as many as half of all collectors are Republicans or conservatives. And maybe voted Trump. We know the Kushner-Trumps did. Perhaps all the living artists in the Kushner-Trump collection might disown their work, say it is “fake,” making it instantly worthless (in addition to being an aesthetic and political slap in the face). I couldn’t help agree with all of them that having one’s work owned by the Trumps does somehow taint the work, almost negating it already. But even if this en masse disowning is only an isolated action, limited to those artists lucky enough to live off their work, just a drip in the middle of this building shitstorm of a presidency, I gleaned an artist trying to take back his name, his work, do something, anything. To do this in a time that is calling to us all to take action rather than to simply default, using our energies to criticize how others use their energy.
Now I’m no art expert – I like Norman Rockwell – but it seems unlikely that an artist can render his own work worthless by renouncing it. If anything, such a move seems likely to increase the work’s value.
Regardless, lefties, and lefty art types in particular, are retarded.