It’s no secret that Ivanka Trump is an enthusiastic art collector who often shows off the contemporary art pieces from her collections on Instagram. One of the most recent was work by Richard Prince, the artist regarded as “one of the most revered artists of his generation” according to the New York Times and equitably the king of controversy same time, by endless copyright lawsuits on the issues of rephotographying and appropriation.
Princely Re-invention, à la Instagram Age
Leave aside the whole topic of “appropriation art,” this year Prince generated a different strain of controversy by returning a $36,000 payment he had received in 2014 for artwork he made of Ivanka Trump. He revealed that he refused to live with the fact that one of his works would be a part of the Trump family art collection.
Prince’s notoriety reached a new high for the series of artworks appropriating other people’s Instagram posts called “New Portraits,” just as he’s been creating his art by copying and recontextualizing other photographer’s works (without their permission of course) and using the controversial rephotographing process since the 1970s.
Recently, he tweeted an image of Ivanka Trump’s August 2014 Instagram posts done in his appropriation style. However, Prince was not amusing a satire or punning about his work nor was he responding to Ivanka’s January 15, 2015 Instagram post. Where she thanks him for the piece he created for her and mentions him..
No, Prince’s tweet was a declaration that the work is not his and disavowing the particular work: “This is not my work. I did not make it. I deny. I denounce. This fake art.”
It was a defiant act of protest against Ivanka Trump’s father, the controversial 45th President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump. Prince went on to explain his decision via a series of tweets, seemingly mocking the way Trump also uses Twitter to drive his points and coerce his politics.
Can Artists Excommunicate Their Art?
Prince’s appropriation art which both critics and art world outsiders have described as nothing more than an image of an image and often full blown negative reviews. In fact, his “artwork” of Ivanka was a painting that reproduced from the print of an Instagram post that’s a screenshot of a selfie she took as she was getting her hair done.
Richard Prince has been known for using Twitter as his stage for the fictionalized character of himself. But on the topic of the controversial Ivanka piece, Prince seems to have put his Twitter performance art aside and appears to speak, or rather tweet, from the heart on his refusal to be associated with the Trump family.
“The Trumps left me no choice. By refusing 2 acknowledge an artwork I sold them 2 years ago & returning the money is making them small again.” – 9:48 am 12 Jan 2017
Richard Prince tells the New York Times, “It was just an honest way for me to protest.”
“It was a way of deciding what’s right and wrong. And what’s right is art, and what’s wrong is not art. I decided the Trumps are not art.”
Prince refused to name the art advisor that approached him in 2014 with a request to make a painting based on a post on Ivanka Trump’s Instagram feed. Prince then goes on to reveal that he returned the original Ivanka piece to the art advisor. Ivanka Trump declined to speak about the issue. However, a person within her circle who was unauthorized to speak on the matter says that the payment made was in the process of being returned by Prince.
Richard Prince’s act of excommunicating his art, which proves to be entirely his based on evidence documented in a series of public social media posts, now begs the question of how art that has been disowned by its creator will be classified.
My Art, Your Art, What Is Art
One thing does seem certain; despite Richard Prince’s declaration that the work is not his, the public will always identify the piece as a Richard Prince work of art, possibly even raising its value by surrounding it with so much political controversy.
That’s the fascinating thing about the world we live in today and how social media and technology can document the historical relevance of a piece of art and reinvent a whole new wheel and narrative around it.
ARTDEX knows this all too well. A mobile app where artists and art lovers can record their personal collections, whether it’s their own art, orthe photos of those art images they love to keep and cherish. Imagine posting and sharing an undiscovered artist who later goes on to become the next big shot artist of the new generation. You’ll have documentation of their humble beginnings and will have played a part in their success.