James Franco does Cindy Sherman

Actor says his new take on Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills allows him to 'refashion' the work he does in Hollywood
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Detail from James Franco's New Untitled Film Still 21 (2013); detail from Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Still 21 (1978)
Detail from James Franco's New Untitled Film Still 21 (2013); detail from Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Still 21 (1978)

Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills are among the best-known fine-art photographs ever produced. The pictures, made between 1977 and 1980, saw the artist dress-up, pose and photograph herself as a series of archetypical movie molls. The clothes Sherman chose appeared to date from the forties and fifties, creating, as Paul Moorhouse explains in our Phaidon Focus book on the artist, ”the impression of a wider context, and an underlying plot, by showing her subjects reacting to or observing a situation beyond the frame.”

 

Untitled Film Still 58 (1980) by Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still 58 (1980) by Cindy Sherman

These beguiling shots have captured both cinephiles and art lovers since their creation. Now, one artist who works both within the movie business and the gallery system has recreated a number of these famous stills, cross dressing to fill the roles Sherman created. 

 

New Untitled Film Still 58 (2013) by James Franco
New Untitled Film Still 58 (2013) by James Franco

James Franco’s New Film Stills is on display at the Pace gallery on West 25th St until 3 May. In his silver gelatin prints the actor, writer and artist looks less mysterious than Sherman, and quite a bit more frivolous; yet Franco believes Sherman’s original pictures “are both humorous and earnest.”

He goes on to state that “Cindy is an artist who used cinema as a source for her work; she ‘played’ at being an actress. I am an actor who inserts himself into his work. I am fully embedded in Hollywood, but these photos allow me to take a step to the side, look back, and refashion the work I do in Hollywood. I am at the same time actor, critic, artist, and character.” 

 

New Untitled Film Still 32 (2013) by James Franco
New Untitled Film Still 32 (2013) by James Franco

While Franco’s own shots might not have the same impact as Sherman’s originals, they’re an intriguing addition to the actor’s burgeoning fine-art career. Find out more about the show here, and to learn how the originals were made, pick up a copy of our Phaidon Focus title on Sherman here, and for more on photography as fine art, take a look at our new book, Photography Today.

 

New Untitled Film Still 32 (1978) by Cindy Sherman
New Untitled Film Still 32 (1978) by Cindy Sherman


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