To imagine Richard Prince doing drip paintings in honor of Jackson Pollock is too linear a concept for what Prince does in Guild Hall's new exhibition, Richard Prince: Covering Pollock. The iconic abstract expressionist is pure subject for Prince's collages, repetitions in the manner of Warhol, Rauschenberg-like juxtapositions. He's evoking a whole lot more than just Pollock in this homage.
Photographs of the serene Springs setting where Pollock and Lee Krasner lived and worked, some with Krasner posing, another with girlfriend Ruth Kligman, another with the fatal car upturned, collaged with cancelled checks, or snapshots, some pornographic. Prince says in a conversation with Lisa Phillips, Director of the New Museum, curator of Prince's first show at the Whitney, "I'm imagining what he would do today if he were still alive. What music he would listen to, what activities he would be involved with?"
On Friday, the annual Guild Hall summer gala followed the Prince opening, at the historic Gardiner estate. Master of Ceremonies Alec Baldwin made the usual introductions, of movie producer Michael Lynne, chair of the museum committee, honoree Martha Stewart, DJ Alexandra Richards (daughter of Keith, he noted) and then Baldwin strongly advised the seated dinner and auction guests including Larry Gagosian, Dina Merrill and Ted Hartley, and James Frey, "When the Clifford Ross comes up, don't get in my way."
Simon de Pury, flown in from Monaco for this event, took over. He's simply the best, said Anne Livet of Livet Reichard, auction organizer, He doesn't let up. True to his reputation, and with great gusto, he guided bidders to spend $376,000, almost double the gala's previous totals on work by Andres Serrano, William Wegman, Eric Fishl and Barbara Kruger. Yes, some did bid against Alec Baldwin, driving up the take on Ross's archival pigment print, Hurricane LI from 2008. But Baldwin prevailed. And Richard Prince gamely got Bryan Hunt's bronze Maenad II from 2002.
But art seems less of an inspiration for Richard Prince, according to his brochure interview with Phillips. He considers his celebrity memorabilia and library part of his "work." Aside from cancelled checks from Pollock, and one from Jack Kerouac made out to a liquor store, he owns Kerouac's copy of Ulysses, William Burroughs' Naked Lunch inscribed to Paul Bowles with a tipped-in photograph of the Hotel Muneria in Tangier where Burroughs assembled his book.
I can't wait to see what he does with that.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.