Richard, Prince of Thieves

It’s late-breaking news, but Richard Prince is getting sued. French photographer Patrick Cariou has filed a lawsuit over a series of Prince collage paintings that were displayed recently at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. Cariou claims Prince’s “Canal Zone” series, which  features Rastifarian Men collaged and painted over, illegally borrows photographs from his book Yes Rasta. Cariou is asking for the unsold works to be impounded and destroyed. This includes the catalogue for the exhibition, Canal Zone (co-published by Rizzoli). (LEFT: COVER)

Because of the Lawsuit, it’s extra-hard to get a copy of Canal Zone. Otherwise, formally, Canal Zone is what you would expect from a Prince book: Pieces from the exhibition (photos of busty pinups and dreadlocked rastas with Baldessari-esque ovals painted over the eyes/nose/mouth), interspersed with images from Prince’s oeuvre that loosely relate to the (tropical) theme at hand: signed publicity stills from Planet of the Apes; a busty “girl next door” modeling in front of a “Rasta painting”; exotic photographs of the artist’s studio in the jungles of upstate New York; etc.

What makes the catalogue unique is the text provided by novelist James Frey, titled “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead.” Frey takes Prince’s storyboard of Canal Zone and gives it the treatment, concocting the (short) story of an uber-wealthy family who, upon arriving at St. Bart’s for vacation, find out that there has been a nuclear holocaust. Richard Prince provided the cover artwork for Frey’s first novel, Bright Shiny Morning, and it’s nice to see that Frey has returned the favor.