Richard Prince, famed re-photographer of cowboys, pulp novel covers, and Instagram posts, is also known to apply his instincts for appropriation to Twitter. From “@RichardPrince4” (a somewhat inauspicious handle for someone of his stature), he spent much of the past four years bashing the Trump clan, but “Family Tweets,” at the Gagosian Shop, turns its attention to an earlier period in Prince’s Twitter oeuvre, and to his own family. As part of the 2017 Desert X biennial, Prince displayed, in and outside an abandoned house in California’s Coachella Valley, printouts of tweets dating mostly from 2014 and culled from his family-oriented “Bird Talk” blog. In a further layer of self-appropriation, this exhibition collects the remains of that presentation.
No one stood guard over the show, and it quickly fell victim to unscrupulous viewers who made off with much of its contents, or handled them roughly. Photographs taken three days after installation fill the Gagosian exhibition and the accompanying catalogue, and document the printed tweets in various states of disrepair: scattered, crumpled, pinned to the ground by rocks, gouged with holes. The visual presentation matches their sometimes debauched content, which hair-raisingly straddles the line between a septuagenarian’s clumsy Twitter-speak and the snarky, subversive, and faux-ignorant tone Prince has struck throughout a career nearly as long. “Sneaked this pic of my sis and one of her boyfriends. Peter,” reads one particularly scuffed-up tweet, which attaches a picture of a pair of nude figures fondling each other. “He was a cartoonist/ graphic artist for the National Lampoon.”
Richard Prince, Untitled, 2017. Watercolor and ink jet on paper, 59 3/4 x 54 inches. © Richard Prince. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian