AO On Site – Berlin: James Franco ‘The Dangerous Book Four Boys’ at Peres Projects, Saturday, February 12th runs through April 23rd, 2011

February 14th, 2011


Installation view. Dangerious Book Four Boys. Photo by Zain Burgess, Art Observed

Peres Projects presents James Franco‘s now infamous foray into art, The Dangerous Book Four Boys, initially shown at the Clocktower Gallery in NYC. The press release mildly proclaims that this is Franco’s first European solo show.  While technically true, this seems a wholly redundant statement as Franco takes over the cultural world, his films almost constantly being released, a 2011 Oscar nod and, as for art, his General Hospital work at LA MoMA last year still might be the crossover leap heard ’round the world. “I’ve been spending most weekends in L.A. shooting pre-taped stuff for the Oscars and this is the first weekend I wasn’t doing that,” Franco said at The Dangerous Book Four Boys opening.  The continued critical acceptance of Dangerous Boys, while not yet universal critical acclaim, is solely one facet of Franco’s creative dispersion.


James Franco, Untitled (Double third portrait polaroids); (detail of 15 photos) (2009). Via Peres Projects

More text and images after the jump…


James Franco, Burning Angle (video still) (2008). Via Peres Projects


Installation view. Photo by Zain Burgess, Art Observed

The press release for Dangerous Boys indicates the eclectic, possibly disjointed, qualities of Franco’s work. He uses a variety of media and pays homage to the work of an extremely wide range of male artists, from “Paul McCarthy to Kenneth Anger,” with a subject matter a consideration of adolescence, masculinity, sexuality, and parenting.


James Franco, Double Third Portrait (video still) (2009). Via Peres Projects

Franco’s images of suburban homes on fire have a distinctly Gordon Matta-Clark flair to them, even if they vary in subject matter as rejections of “normative parenting.” His Paul McCarthy-esque installations lack the risky virtuosity of their inspiration; however, critics agree that his work, on some level, is compelling. Franco’s constant use of his own image, the use of his celebrity in his work, is a Warholian dream. While he seems more interested in masking himself or deteriorating his image, Franco’s constant toying with his persona through the use of himself in his work is surprisingly unselfconscious because of the sheer repetition. He appears in most of the 20+ videos currently on sale at Peres. Roberta Smith, in her review of the first exhibition of the Dangerous Boys, ruminates that while “there is much to be put off by,” ultimately Franco’s grappling with himself is interesting, something of a humble beginning for an evolving artist.


Installation View. Photo by Zain Burgess, Art Observed


James Franco, Bill & Tenn (video still) (2007). Via Peres Projects

-E C Feiss

Related Links:
Exhibition site [Peres Projects]
James Franco Plans First Gallery Show in Berlin [ArtInfo]