Richard Prince became well known in the early 1980s for re-photographing popular advertisements and publicity stills. His work both reinforced and dismantled the seductive rhetoric of received information. By re-presenting what appeared to be self-evident and generic in a second-generational, "hyper-real" context, Prince was able to play upon audience expectations and force us to question our own preconceptions about mediated reality.
This strategy has taken on added complexity and irony in Prince's recent work, largely because the artist himself has developed a visual signature that is itself open to the very same critical analysis. Whether ganging together groups of visually related images (palm fronds, breaking waves, close-ups of hair) or superimposing joke texts on white canvas, he not only homogenizes the language of cliche but also transforms his own oeuvre into a form of trustworthy, benign dogma.
We have learned exactly what to expect from Prince, just like the imagery he recycles, and he doesn't disappoint. In so doing, his art also becomes a generic commodity, exploiting a preconceived "look" that fulfills and propagates its own broader critique. As a result, Prince is perhaps best seen as a conceptual heir to Warhol rather than a pure appropriator with little to say beyond questioning originality. (Daniel Weinberg Gallery, 619 N. Almont Drive, to Oct. 3.)