In the mid-80’s, American artist Richard Prince began to search out comedic lines that had been used so often by different comedians and films that he considered them to be overplayed and overused. These jokes had been used by such an array of individuals, that their originators were no longer attached to them at all, nor were they recognizable as any one person’s joke. Prince’s Jokes come in several forms. His first Jokes were hand written, taken from joke books. His jokes grew into more substantial works as he began to incorporate them with images, often pairing jokes with images that had no relevance with one another, creating an obscure relationship.
After the success of the Joke Paintings and some other works of art, Richard Prince started making the Nurse Paintings which are his most recent series. These nurses are inspired by the covers and titles of pulp fiction novels that were commonly sold at newspaper stands and delis. They were cheap, trashy and raunchy entertainment, hence Prince’s attraction to their reflection of what the American people want. Prince scanned the covers of the nurse books with his computer and than using the modern invention of inkjet printing, transferred the images to canvas. He then personalized the pieces with acyclic paint, adding an air of mystique to them. Hence the creation of the Nurses. The paintings debuted in 2003 at Barbara Gladstone Galleries and five years, walked down the runway of Louis Vuitton carrying the Jokes Bags.