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Richard Prince’s New, Late Style Is One of His Best

Richard Prince is losing his cool — or at least some of it. And that’s a good thing. His new paintings — in a show titled “Richard Prince: High Times,” at Gagosian in Chelsea — radiate an unusual heat. Mr. Prince, after all, is the artist who started photographing existing photographs in the late 1970s, which set the stage for appropriation art and the suave, aloof style of the 1980s Pictures Generation.

This show is uncharacteristically generous and self-revealing, with numerous moving parts. All told, it forms a rabbit hole of cross references, a hall of mirrors that irregularly reflect some of the life, times and inner thoughts of an artist given to mixing fact and fiction, one who is a devotee of American rock, an erudite collector of postwar literature and a writer of some distinction.

In addition to over 30 paintings, “High Times” includes a large group of Mr. Prince’s 1997-2000 “Hippie Drawings”; a hilariously fictive, fetishized private library; and 16 copies of the catalog for a recent Willem de Kooning retrospective, each Oedipally vandalized and appended onto a Richard Prince artwork. The catalog is virtually an artist’s book, laden with pertinent essays and treats, including three seemingly autobiographical posts from Mr. Prince’s blog, Bird Talk...

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