James Franco New Film Still #42 2013
Richard Prince All The Best 2007
The funny thing about Franco is that I kind of actually like his stuff a good half the time.* I don’t know what if that says more about me or how easily I’m influenced by the people I admire that he gets to work with, but either way, that’s how I’ll start this.
I haven’t seen the pieces in person, and won’t b/c I don’t have a plan to go to NY anytime soon, but having seen Sherman’s, like the rest of you, I get the gist. Franco has inserted himself in Sherman’s work and in surprisingly unshocking news, Pace is showing it. Appropriation, when done well (above my favorite Prince), is transcendent of it’s source material. When done poorly? Sad at best and a lawsuit (again Prince) at worst. Unfortunately Franco’s is the latter. The photos are beautiful as they are a direct recreation of Sherman’s who we all know by now is a master of composition and subject matter. We know, whether we want to or not, Franco is supremely photogenic, so that’s not an issue. It’s the patriarchy of the act. I truly don’t believe he’s misogynist, even after reading the press release all I see is “I can do this better/more interesting”. Franco wearing a dress and photographing himself He says it has something to do with her being a photographer taking a cue from Hollywood (name drop, name drop, name drop, i know what I’m talking about) and that he’s an actor taking a cue from the artist. All the subtleties are gone. The lost ingenue in the big city/film. The curiosity, the vulnerability is gone. It would almost be interesting if this was a comment on the LGBQT community, but it definitely does not seem to be. I just am trying to see how he validated executing and showing this as if it as something that could possibly contribute to any viable cultural conversation.
Diagnosis: overinflated sense of self. Prescription: Lose at least 8 yes men telling you everything is brilliant. Regular reality checks.
UPDATE: I wrote this without reading any other real criticism. But everyone pretty much agrees.
It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for him, while also wishing that someone or something would make him stop. - Roberta Smith
I can only be flattered. I don’t know that I can say it’s art, but I think it’s weirder that Pace would show them than that he would make them. - Cindy Sherman
In other words, to know how far down the rabbit hole we’ve come; at this point George W. Bush is actually a better artist than James Franco. - Jerry Saltz
*This includes acting. I find him an affable fellow.