Perhaps the most unusual item currently available at Gallery 98 can only be described as the chance collaboration of “Pictures Generation” superstar Richard Prince and COLAB theorist Alan W. Moore. The story is simple enough: having grabbed a handful of the hand-outs that accompanied Prince’s 1979 window display at Three Lives bookstore, Moore took them home and loaded them into his Smith-Corona electric typewriter. Five of these sheets are known to exist, of which two have already sold.
“Single Man Looking to the Right” dates to Prince’s first experiments with appropriation, which would characterize his mature career. The brief essay stakes out his aim of finding “element[s] of surprise in what at best is a perfectly ordinary setting.” Artistic creation is described as uncontrolled, automatic, reflexive—”on about the same level as a snake’s decision to crawl on its belly.” We’ll leave it to the Prince scholars to interpret every abstruse sentence.
Alan W. Moore, a former critic for Artforum, is the author most recently of Art Gangs: Protest and Counterculture in New York City (Autonomedia, 2011) and Occupation Culture: Art & Squatting in the City from Below (Minor Compositions, 2015). What we see here, though, are his late-’70s experiments in automatic writing. The analogy to Prince’s intuitive, snake-like artist is unavoidable, though Moore denies any direct influence, and indeed created similar texts on the reverse sides of Mudd Club flyers and other ephemera.
Richard Prince’s writings and books are almost as coveted as his high-priced paintings and photographs. Does the typing of an underpaid art writer diminish the value of this otherwise pristine manifesto? Or does Moore’s indifferent appropriation extend the (often heated) dialogue between Prince and his own appropriated sources? Those interested in adding this item to a Richard Prince collection should contact Gallery 98 for the price.