Our Reblogs, Ourselves

by Jillian Steinhauer

Prince UntitledCowboy

For centuries, images were a fairly quantifiable, classifiable thing. One could, if one wanted, generally divide them into two categories: those made by artists and those not; artworks and everything else. There were always complications, of course — where did photojournalism fall, or works made by bad artists, or family photos — but the lines were pretty distinctly drawn: No matter the content or method, art images were those created by artists toiling away in studios or monasteries or workshops; they were shown in galleries and museums and sometimes books, framed very clearly as capital-A art. Plenty of artists have worked to undermine or discredit this system, like Richard Prince, who upset a lot of people when he started rephotographing Marlboro cigarette ads in 1980. Theoretically, the question with Prince went: was this art or copied advertising? The work, however, was shown in specifically designated art spaces, with Prince’s name clearly attached to it. It was undoubtedly art, even if people at first didn’t agree on its qualifications. [...]