James Franco Takes On Renaissance Sculpture in Sotheby’s Video

The film features large amounts of clear goo.

James Franco. Photo Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

Actor-cum-artist James Franco is at it again. In a new video commissioned by Sotheby’s for their Artist Response series—in which the auction powerhouse invites artists to create a work in response to one of their selling exhibitions—Franco chose to focus on “Glazed: The Legacy of the Della Robbia,” reinterpreting Italian Renaissance sculptures with clear goo. Lots and lots of clear goo.

The somewhat bizarre video, which clocks in at four minutes, portrays models assuming the poses of the sculptures on display in the exhibition, and being covered in a clear, sticky substance that pours in slow-motion from an unknown source above their heads.

“I was immediately struck by the vibrancy and shine of the glaze of the Della Robbia sculptures in this show, especially the human forms frozen in time as icons,” Franco explained in a press release. “To mimic and modernize these sculptures, I wanted to create living icons emphasizing the glazing process.”

One of the scenes from James Franco's video for Sotheby's. Photo courtesy Youtube.

One of the scenes from James Franco’s video for Sotheby’s. Photo courtesy Youtube.

The exhibition from which the video takes its inspiration, “Glazed: The Legacy of the Della Robbia,” displays 19 terracotta sculptures created by the Della Robbia family during the Renaissance in Florence. Franco’s re-staged interpretations include The Annunciate Virgin (1505/1510), Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, Blessing (1510/1520), and a coat of arms from 1510.

“For centuries, sculpture has been used decoratively and as iconography. The Della Robbia family created sculptures that take on both of those roles,” Franco said. “I filmed them in slow motion so the viewer relishes in the passage of time and can imagine the tangible feeling of the liquid covering each living sculpture.”

“Glazed: The Legacy of the Della Robbia” is on view at Sotheby’s in New York City through November 18.

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