Sam McKinniss Interview: Painting Prince


“His name was fucking Prince! He already was royalty – there needed to be a royal court portrait of Prince.” The praised pop culture-inspired artist Sam McKinniss (b. 1985) paints eye-catching depictions – in vibrant colours – of famous people. In this short video, he talks about how painting Prince from the cover of the iconic ‘Purple Rain’ was not only a commemorative effort but also an opportunity to do a form of royal court painting.

“He is just perched, seated there on his motorcycle like a chariot, like a horse. It was already art, it was already baroque.” McKinniss chose to paint the world-famous album cover for Prince’s album ‘Purple Rain’, rendering it in oil paint in a massive scale, so that it greets you like an altarpiece in a church: “Prince was so massively influential and so massively important and innovative. He was as large as that.”

Sam McKinniss (b. 1985) is an American painter, who works from photographs and images found online. He is perhaps most well-known for his images from popular culture, floral still lifes as well as reclining male nudes. One of his great inspirations is the figurative French painter Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) and his floral still-life paintings. McKinniss has exhibited at prominent galleries worldwide. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. For more see: http://www.sammckinniss.com/info/

In the video, McKinniss discusses his portrait ‘Prince’ (2016) based on the 1984-album ‘Purple Rain’ by the American musician Prince (1958-2016).

Sam McKinniss was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at his studio in Brooklyn, New York in September 2017.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken

Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg

Cover photo: Cropped version of ‘Prince’, 2016 by Sam McKinniss. Courtesy of Sam McKinniss and Team Gallery

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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