Richard Prince was born on August 6, 1949 in the Panama Canal Zone, then a United States territory. Prince and his family relocated to Braintree, Massachusetts—a suburb of Boston—in 1954. In 1973, after applying to the San Francisco Art Institute without success, Prince moved to New York, where he worked at the Time-Life Building as a preparer of magazine clippings. During this time, he became familiar with Conceptual Art and realized the possibility of utilizing imagery from mass media, advertising and entertainment in art.
Prince’s practice began by taking the leftover magazine clippings from his job, then re-photographing and configuring them to spark various dialogues. The result was a deliberately artificial look that blurred the line between real and artifice, and highlighted a keen interest in consumer culture.
During the 1980s, Prince began executing different bodies of work, each of which touched upon a specific motif of desire that permeated pop culture, such as car hoods, cowboys, and pornography. Later in the decade, he began his series of “Joke” paintings, wherein short, punchy jokes are paired again abstract, often monochromatic backgrounds. In the early 2000’s, Prince began a series of “Nurses,” inspired by pulp-fiction paperback novels of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Prince would take the nurses pictured on the covers of these novels, along with their titles—"Naughty Nurse”, “Park Avenue Nurse”, “Surfer Nurse”, etc.—and set them against abstracted backgrounds.
Prince’s first solo exhibition was held at Artists Space in New York in 1980. Since that time, Prince has had exhibitions at numerous museums such as the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany, and the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles. In 2007, the Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York, exhibited a critical overview of the artist's work entitled, “Richard Prince: Spiritual America.” Prince’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among others.
Richard Prince currently lives and works in New York.