Are you sophisticated enough to appreciate this properly?
Take, for example, one of Prince's best-known works, the 1989 Ektacolor photo of a cowboy galloping under blue skies across a wide open plain with a lariat in one hand, horse and rider caught in the split second before they thunder out of the camera's range.
If you didn't know what you were looking at, you'd take the picture to be a defining image of the spirit of the American West, with all that implies about tough-guy machismo, personal freedom, and God's own country.
In fact, what Prince did was to "re-photograph" an advertisement for Marlboro Lights, but removed the picture of the cigarette pack, the advertising copy ("The spirit of Marlboro in a low tar cigarette"), and the Surgeon General's health warning.
With a click of a button, then, Prince magically created an original artwork out of an existing photo taken by somebody else....It dispels the illusion that the original was intended to create, because anyone sophisticated enough to go to an art gallery to see it wouldn't believe a single thing about it - that it shows a real scene, that it features a real cowboy, that the West is now, or ever was, really like that. In fact, nowadays the image would probably make us think of the original Marlboro men who died of lung cancer, or even of the film Brokeback Mountain.
Well that is me told then, I didn't think of Brokeback Mountain, in fact I try never to, nor about some old actor coughing his guts up - no I'm so unsophisticated that I thought "of the spirit of the American West, with all that implies about tough-guy machismo, personal freedom, and God's own country." And I'm proud of that.