Art & Design

James Franco Interviews Four of His Favorite Artists

Art & Design

James Franco Interviews Four of His Favorite Artists

Ryan McNamara
Laurel Nakadate
David Benjamin Sherry


“David Benjamin Sherry is a photographer who breaks the confines of classic photography and embraces a painterly approach,” Franco says of the 31-year-old artist who photographed the actor for the cover of Wooooo magazine. “His work is timeless, urban, and natural all at the same time. He weaves together images that join figures, landscapes, color, and gesture into a smooth surface so that it’s almost impossible to know where one element begins and the other ends.”

Robert “Franco” Frank, General Hospital: How have you been?

David Benjamin Sherry:

Excellent. I’m in Death Valley, California! How about you, Franco?

I’ve been doing more art, self-portraits.

Ah, cool. I’m putting together a new body of work that’s based around the desert. It’s for a show I’ll have at Salon 94 in New York in late April.

You think you can do better?

We can all do better.

What are you worried about?

At the moment: being dehydrated in the desert, rattlesnakes, black widows, and scorpions.

The secret to life?

I believe it’s found in nature, also: music, art, good food, poetry, love, and sex.

What would get you into bed? You.


Haha, use your imagination.


“Carter is a painter who has expanded his work into the realms of sculpture, film, and poetry,” Franco says of the 41-year-old artist who directed him in Maladies, an upcoming film co-starring Catherine Keener and David Strathairn. “His work is comprised of a strong tension between melodrama and restraint. This tension is typified in the gestural paint marks that are actually stuck onto his paintings: passionate gestures that are isolated, contained, and re-contextualized.”

Daniel Desario,  Freaks and Geeks: Can I ask you something?

Carter: Sure.

What are you?


Since when?


What are you, some super-smart guy?


What are you reading?

An interview with Barney Frank.

Why are you reading this?

I like gays.

Are we ever going to plan our coup?

Of course.

Why not, man?

I said yes, yes we are.


“Laurel Nakadate is a photographer, filmmaker, video artist, and performer who, for the past 10 years, has mined the vulnerable period of adolescent sexual awakening,” Franco says of the 36-year-old Austin, Texas, native with whom he recently staged Three Performances in Search of Tennessee, an interactive homage to Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, as part of Performa 11. “Much of her work involves non-artists and non-performers; instead, she engages real people with work that reaches out from the confines of the art world and infiltrates the nexus of the world around us.”

Harry Osborn, Spider-Man: Hello?

Laurel Nakadate: Yes?

Am I interrupting?

No, it’s fine. You like it like this, right?

Would you like a drink?

No, thanks.

What have you done? What have you done?

I’ve made some movies, a bunch of videos, and some pictures.

Why bother?

Looking is a brave act—you might discover something you cannot bear. You might also discover something more beautiful than you ever imagined.

Fame and fortune?


Where do you go all the time?

I hang out with strangers. I collect stories. I try to make sense of chance encounters.

You gonna kill me?

That would be too easy. Everything that happens before that is what keeps me up at night.


“Ryan McNamara is a performer who can make anything out of nothing,” Franco says of the 31-year-old artist who allowed the actor—asked him, actually—to spit in his face during a shared performance at Performa 11. “His work takes the ethereal and turns it into dense conceptual pieces that feel as concrete as any play, statue, or painting.”
Saul Silver, Pineapple Express: What the hell do you do?

Ryan McNamara: Make James Franco spit on my face. Bury myself in the forest and sing duets. Overthrow the Whitney Biennial with the Whitney Houston Biennial. Stink up the Dia building with man smell. Get stuck in a variety-show time loop. Force people to eat my debit card. Dance like I’m dead and knock drinks into fancy dresses. Learn from a Texan stripper how to disconnect my ass from the rest of my body. Pose.


Because people ask me to.

[Frustrated sigh.] How did this happen?

I ask myself that question daily.

[Pulls out a cross joint.] You ever smoke one of those?

Of course I get the stoner guy. Why couldn’t I get Harvey Milk’s boyfriend?

Hey, let me ask you something. Do you think you could pull the plug on someone if you needed to? Like euthanasia?

Yes. One time my mom smashed a rabbit’s skull with a rock. It would make such a better story if there were no reason, but really she did it because our cat had gnawed off its thumper legs, and the ants had started eating its face.


Hey, you’re right. Hey, thanks man.



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