Richard Prince has a legendary book collection of over 700 rare items slanted toward the Beat Generation. Prince has a copy of “On the Road” inscribed to Kerouac’s mother, another copy read by the poet on the Steve Allen Show and an early proof copy of the seminal book. Other gems in his collection include a copy of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” dedicated to Kerouac and a well-worn copy of “Naked Lunch” used regularly by William S. Burroughs.
Both writers George Pendle and John McWhinnie believe Prince’s book collection is more than just a personal library. Pendle discusses how it encompasses an entire movement, as “it cannot help but be seen as something of a self-portrait.” McWhinnie believes that it is Prince’s “arrangement of discrete objects in a very specific way” that make the artist’s consistent obsession and method of collecting as a part of Prince’s practice. This was seen recently during an exhibition at the Patrick Seguin Gallery in Paris where Prince’s book collection was incorporated into his furniture design, furthering their understanding that Prince’s method are an extension of his interdisciplinary oeuvre.
As for what Prince plans to do with the library, there have been rumors — since denied by the artist — about a donation to the Morgan Library. But one possible future mooted by McWhinnie is that the thousands of books will eventually be condensed into just one.
Read George Pendle’s full article “Beats Art” for Modern Painters
Check out Richard Prince’s Artwork on Paddle8