26 June 2009

Spiritual America: Revisited

There's a contemporary art sale next week in London, featuring Richard Prince's Spiritual America IV portrait from 2005.



Scantily clad in a string bikini and mired ankle deep in nitrogen fog, Brooke Shields poses against a Vengeance chopper- a revisit of Richard Prince's most important and notorious works to date, Spiritual America from 1983.

At the onset of his career, Prince appropriated advertising images for his own artistic oeuvre. In 1983, he encountered a photograph of the naked ten year old child actor, below, taken by photographer Gary Gross. In 1975, Brooke Shields' mother had paid $450 to have Gross represent her daughter as a heavily made up, androgynous seductress.The resulting risqué publicity shot would launch Brooke Shields' career by landing her a leading role in the 1978 hit film Pretty Baby in which she played a child raised in a brothel.


Prince entitled the photo By Richard Prince, A Photograph of Brooke Shields by Garry Gross, but the photo is better known by the title given to the entire project: Spiritual America.

The lot on sale tomorrow is less controversial due to the fact Shields is now 4o-odd, but still - it's a strong image and I love artists referencing their previous projects and revisiting defining work.
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