Are you sitting down? Superstar appropriation artist Richard Prince has left mega-dealer Larry Gagosian. Who? What? You don’t know and you don’t care?
Prince has broken ties with the mega-gallery, which started in L.A. in 1980, and has been expanding ever since. Since joining the gallery in ’05, Prince has had nearly a dozen solo shows at its dozen or more (it’s hard to keep track) locations strewn across the globe.
According to artnet News, the tension arose between the artist and the gallery over issues of representation. Prince reportedly was signed to the Gagosian exclusively, he has also had many other solo shows at other blue-chip venues in the past five years, including his former gallery Barbara Gladstone, Blum & Poe, Luxembourg & Dayan, Nahmad Contemporary, Almine Rech, Skarstedt, and Sadie Coles in London.
This appears to be not-so news for Gagosian, since Prince’s market is force to be reckoned with. His “Nurse” and “Joke” series paintings often sell for millions at auction. The current auction record of $9.7 million was set at Christie’s just last month. artnet’s database lists nine paintings that have sold for more than $5 million each, and nearly 50 paintings for more than $2 million each. (You do the math.)
Prince has sparked controversy over his appropriation practice, including a string of copyright lawsuits in which Larry Gagosian personally, and the gallery, have been drawn in to as defendants. Photographer Patrick Cariou sued the artist and the gallery over use of his distinctive Rastafarian imagery, that Prince then used in his highly successful “Canal Zone” paintings, which were shown at Gagosian in 2011.
The Cariou v. Prince case was eventually settled in 2014.
Just last month, another photographer, Dennis Morris, who trailed the Sex Pistols on tour in the 1970s, sued Prince and Gagosian for use of his image of Sid Vicious also in the blown-up Instagram series.
Another source who was aware of the split made light of reading too much into the often fickle artist-dealer relationship. Another Gagosian star, Damien Hirst, “left” Gagosian a few years back, but has returned to the flock.
Is it just about the money. Prince told Hirst in 2009,
“It’s not that money has nothing to do with it… Money means you can buy a better pencil sharpener…“
By now he must have one or two REALLY nice pencil sharpeners!
(via artnet News)