Bill Murray Is the Unsuspecting Muse of an Exhibition at BALTIC, England

Brilliant sculptures meet Bill Murray—what's not to like?

Installation view of Brian Griffiths’s exhibition “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity” 2015 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Photo: John McKenzie © 2015 BALTIC
Installation view of Brian Griffiths’s exhibition “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity” 2015 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
Photo: John McKenzie © 2015 BALTIC

The legendary American actor Bill Murray has become the focus of an exhibition by British artist Brian Griffiths, which opened at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England, last Friday.

The exhibition, titled “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity,” is a site-specific commission, sprawling across the museum’s huge Level 4 gallery. There, the models of nine different types of buildings—including an L.A. beach house and a historic Scottish mansion—become the settings for the imagined activities of the famous actor and millennials’ cult figure.

Installation view of Brian Griffiths’s exhibition “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity” 2015 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. <br>Photo: John McKenzie © 2015 BALTIC

Installation view of Brian Griffiths’s exhibition “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity” 2015 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
Photo: John McKenzie © 2015 BALTIC.

“I’m interested in his Murrayness. He is very good material,” the London-based artist told the Guardian. “Bill the global superstar, the guy-next-door, the anti-brand brand, the irrepressible Lothario, the lovable gruff, the wisecracker, the emotionally brittle, the lost man, the free-wheeling guy, the uncle you-never-had, the dignified clown, the droll philosopher and the hopeful,” he said enthusiastically of his current muse.

The nine sculptures are assemblages of architectural archetypes, everyday objects, and light, and also feature a documented performance of Murray. “It is a fantasy landscape,” said Griffiths, whose oeuvre features sculptures and installations with both found and made objects.

“I would call it a metaphysical adventure story with Bill. For me, Bill is an object in the show and an image in the show. He has to some extent become my leading man.”

Installation view of Brian Griffiths’s exhibition “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity” 2015 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. <br>Photo: John McKenzie © 2015 BALTIC

Installation view of Brian Griffiths’s exhibition “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity” 2015 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
Photo: John McKenzie © 2015 BALTIC.

According to the Guardian, however, the leading man himself might not be aware of his growing status as contemporary art subject. “He is difficult to get hold of … He seems to live a very particular life,” Griffiths explained, adding that he had tried to contact Murray but was unsure of the outcome.

Installation view of Brian Griffiths’s exhibition “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity” 2015 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. <br>Photo: John McKenzie © 2015 BALTIC

Installation view of Brian Griffiths’s exhibition “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity” 2015 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
Photo: John McKenzie © 2015 BALTIC.

The models all feature images of Murray on their façades, and Griffiths, furthering his play on scale and sizing, has also hung a massive 20-meter-long banner with a photo of the comedian taken at the Cannes Film Festival on the front façade of the museum.

Surprising as it may seem, this is not the first time Murray stars in an art exhibition. Last year, DJ/event planner/curator Ezra Croft curated the one-day-long “The Murray Affair” exhibition, featuring artworks inspired by the actor.

It seems that shows exploring “his Murrayness” have only just begun.

Brian Griffiths, “BILL MURRAY: a story of distance, size and sincerity” runs at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, from November 20, 2015 – February 28, 2016.


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