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Richard Prince’s Instagram Paintings Are Genius Trolling

What does the internet do? The internet hates. Obviously, it does lots of other things, too — it jump-starts insurrections, appropriates, lusts, scrambles, loves cats, disrupts. But hating often seems like what the internet does best, especially when it’s got a good troll. And it’s done a lot of hating recently in response to Richard Prince’s semi-revolutionary, drop-dead simple, often salacious Instagram paintings. For these works, Prince has been called a dirty old man, creepy, twisted, a pervert. All of which may be true — but true in a great way, if that’s possible.

Thirty-seven of Prince’s New Portraits are now on view in the rear of Larry Gagosian’s store — yes, his fabulous ground floor Madison Avenue bookstore. Each is an inkjet image of someone else’s Instagram page — often a young girl posing semi-naked or maybe squatting to pee, laying on a gynecologist’s table, or taking a provocative selfie — and printed on canvasses measuring about six feet by four feet. Think of it as Prince taking his paradoxical way of appropriating and representing images to deeper digital and libidinal levels...

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