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Controversial gallerist Larry Gagosian sure knows how to throw a party. Who else would attract fashion photographers, Vanity Fair journalists and other glam types to see paintings smack-dab in the middle of the bustling Oscar week?

The chattering class turned out for art with both East Coast savvy and West Coast wonder. “Richard Prince: Cowboys” is a series of 33 images of ranch hands painted by a New York-based artist fixated on these Western icons.

Back in the 1980s, Prince reimagined the ultimate cowboy, the Marlboro Man, as appropriation art and a critique of consumer culture. (Ironically, in the aughts, one of Prince’s Nurse paintings sold for $8.5 million and inspired a Louis Vuitton collection.)  

Now Prince is painting cowboys for the first time. First he transfers enlarged inkjet prints from the covers of pulp Western novels onto canvas, then overlays lurid purple clouds, vermilion sunsets or rosy dawns. The oversaturated colors and decorative sensibility make it art for the Instagram age--indeed, Gagosian invites gallerygoers through April 6 to post their thoughts and images using #RichardPrinceCowboys. But while online imagery is fun, it pales in comparison with standing before a six-foot-tall cowboy--(nearly) in person. 

Gagosian Gallery, 456 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills; 310-271-9400 or gagosian.com

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