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Richard Prince Suspends His Blasting Mat Studies at Gladstone Gallery

A reflection on car culture and the promise it once held.

Since the 1970s, Richard Prince has sourced the visual vocabulary that makes up modern Americana. From the myth of the Cowboy, the construct of celebrity, to the advent of a car-dominated culture. The artist distorts and recontextualizes this wellspring of references to create an aesthetic that is uniquely his own. Since 2006, blasting mats have been one of the topics of investigation and the subject of a new exhibition at New York’s Gladstone Gallery.

For those unfamiliar, blasting mats are created using sliced-up car tires that are used to block debris in controlled explosions, such as a construction site. Prince views these objects as belonging to the same impoverished lexicon that also includes abandoned cars and discarded basketball hoops — various items and scenes that can be witnessed across America. Like butchered meat hanging in a freezer, these symbols of the car and the promises they once carried suspend in time — offering a reflection on consumerism and a culture littered with its own remains.

It’s unclear as to what the car’s presence will be going into the second half of the 21st Century, but the glamour and possibilities it once held are undeniably diminishing with the changing landscape of transportation and the impending perils of climate change.

To accompany the exhibition, Gladstone Gallery has also published a book documenting this series of works. “Blasting Mats” will be on view until October 23.

Elsewhere, Louis Vuitton will release an illustrated travel book on Mars.

Gladstone Gallery
530 W 21st St
New York, NY 10011

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