"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Richard Prince's "American Prayer"

A collector to me is always someone who exposes him or herself via their obsession or collection.  Richard Prince is an artist who totally focuses on the importance of the image and how that image is used in various contexts.  So its fascinating how he takes on something so personal - in other words his book collection.  And it is a book collection to end all book collections.  He has many signed rare editions, but also loves the nature of the pulp paperback - but even that has a rare quality to it.

The books he mostly collects are editions that were produced in 1949 to the year 1984. "1984" being one of his favorite novels, which was written in 1949, and by chance also the year of his birth.  So this is a collection that defines Prince as an individual and an artist.  This beautiful book has tons of book covers - but more importantly documents various titles.  For instance he has every version of "On The Road" possible, but beyond that he has editions that are signed by Kerouac to various greats - William Burroughs, Ginsberg, Vidal, etc.  And the fact that he somehow got these signed books is surely a man focused on the communication between the writer and his readers/friends.   He also collects Jimi Hendrix letters - which as far as I know have never been published before - but that's fascinating.

But the meat and potato of his collection is 20th Century classics - and how those classics talk to him as an artist is really something.  This has to be one of the great books on an artist and his muse - books.  And  the fact that we get some great excerpts is a plus as well.  A book that can be in the art  as well as in the literary criticism section.  Love it.

1 comment:

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