Brooke Shields is almost exactly my age. And when we were were 14 in 1980, I saw her Calvin Klein ad on Chicago's Channel 7 Eyewitness News. And coming back from the break, I saw that anchor Joel Daley had the same "What the fuck?" expression on his face that I felt. Um, it's not okay to sexualize 14-year-old girls... right?
I'm glad Joel and I didn't know about this photo.
Naked Brooke Shields photo is an image for which you must write your own commentary | Art and design | The Guardian
Head to one side, the model stares back at the viewer. It is a knowing, adult look, though the naked body appears much younger, as if it is a montage.
An uncomfortable image in all sorts of ways, as Richard Prince realised when he first presented it in an otherwise empty gallery in New York in 1983. He borrowed the title, Spiritual America, from a 1923 photograph by Alfred Stieglitz, depicting the nether regions of a gelded workhorse. The disjunction between the images and the title they share is extremely powerful.
Throughout his career Prince has borrowed images, from Marlboro Man ads to New Yorker cartoons. It would be too simple to say he is commenting on the American psyche; in fact, he leaves much of the commentary to us.
If Spiritual America is a comment on the commodification and premature sexualisation of Brooke Shields, who was complicit in turning her into a 10-year-old sex object? Not Prince. That had happened almost a decade before he re-used the image.
There is something horrible about the photo. I feel uncomfortable.