Richard Prince, the Guggenheim, annoying

Annoying Communication:  You’re in the Guggenheim, digging the permanent collection – all the heavyweights Picasso (some stunners, especially from the early years), Cezanne, Degas, Kandinsky, Rousseau, Rothko, Koons - after doing the marble down the chute bit of the Gugg for the master show on Richard Prince that’s closing in a few days. Richard Prince was a great show for the space, expansive, allowing for a natural upward progression of his development. The cowboys and bikers and nurses the other connected Tribes of Prince’s mind get spaces of their own, along with the enormous quips and cocktail napkin jokes that keep you off balance and keeps the audience (it’s that kind of show) laughing.  You are not contemplating the bust of Homer here, you are singular and invincible, facing the open western spaces with the Marlboro man, conjuring iamges of the highway ticking off highline poles on the road to freedom, the destination that is always someplace else. Read Peter Schjeldahl’s bitchy review in The New Yorker. or Roberta Smith’s kinder and more instructive piece in The New York Times.

Richard Prince Show Closing at Guggenheim

Anyway, I am digging the permanent collection when one of the new “Guides” they have wandering the Gugg comes up to me and says “I see that you are looking at the art.” Considering the smart aleck Prince show fresh in my mind two possible responses popped into my head.

  • Really? Because I am in a museum shuffling around the periphery looking at the objects on the wall. Is that the clue?
  • No, I am actually trying to catch the M86 bus. Is this a stop?

He was persistent, this Guide. He was about half my age. “What is it about this painting that you like?” he asked, trying to prompt a discussion about art. It was his job, he said. “Everything,” I said. Undeterred, he dug deeper. On it went until he got me talking color and composition and all that. It was Cezanne, the beautiful French countryside. “Maybe it is so good because it was painted outdoors,” he said. I could have said, “Really? Imagine painting the outdoors from the outdoors. What innovation! Ah, the French.”

Richard Prince show closing at Guggenheim in New York City

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