Richard Prince’s cowboy romance goes way back. In the early 1980s, his decision to lift imagery straight from Marlboro ads, which featured Stetson-and-chaps-clad loners riding horseback through vast western vistas or pausing for an existential break, resulted in some of the artist’s most controversial and representative works. The legal disputes that followed reports of their financial success (in 2005, a 1989 Untitled [Cowboy] set an auction record of $1.2 million) have no doubt informed every act of appropriation he went on to exercise. Famously, Prince has claimed that he never associated advertising with authorship, and hence always considered its products fair game for use, but this is not to deny that “there are actual people behind the pictures,” as one of these “actual people” put it on the occasion of Prince’s 2007– 2008 retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
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