James Franco, “New Film Still #32″ (2013), gelatin silver print, 26″ x 39-3/4” (66 cm x 101 cm), Edition of 3. (© 2014 Pace Gallery, All Rights Reserved. Unless otherwise specified, all artworks © the artist; all images © Pace Gallery)

LOS ANGELES — For all of James Franco’s talk about being James Franco, it’s pretty lame that he’s now trying to glean a bit of Cindy Sherman’s fame by recreating her photographs in drag. This marks a new low point for the acceptance of Franco as a celebrity performing in the art world, awarding another solo exhibition to a man-child whose work does nothing but allow him to market his own image over and over again. Like any smart Hollywood actor would, Franco is capitalizing on his own image. But unlike in film, where an actor plays a role, there is no separation between fiction and reality, and that is not a good thing. For his new solo exhibition New Film Stills at Pace Gallery in New York, he crosses into the world of female archetypes in film by performing Cindy Sherman in drag. James Franco, this is not a role you were meant to play.

New Film Stills continues at Pace Gallery (508 West 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through May 3.

Alicia Eler is a cultural critic and arts reporter. She is the author of the book The Selfie Generation (Skyhorse Publishing), which has been reviewed in the New York Times, WIRED Magazine and the Chicago...

8 replies on “Franco’s Playhouse”

  1. Agreed. I will jump on the annoyed by James Franco band wagon. After his collaborative comedy film, “This is the End” I would had thought he would have stopped doing this. How wrong I was. Now he is not only perpetuating that character by the separation between fiction and reality he is re-enforcing this notion of cute irony. Hipsters have done too good of a job in with the aid of Urban Outfitters. In the meantime I will wait very, very, very, very, patiently that this phase will be retired along with bell bottoms, parachute pan pants, and trucker hats.

    Although I see that parachute pants are making a comeback, YOLO.

    1. Is anyone actually outraged? The word used above is “annoyed.” On an anger scale of 1 to 10, “annoyed” is a 1 or 2, “outraged” is a 8 or 9. I don’t think anyone is outraged by Franco’s latest shenanigans.

  2. Whatever. He’s just another privileged celeb masturbating to his own image. In fact, that’s probably what he’ll do next—publicly ejaculate all over images of himself.

    1. Did you miss the selfie of himself with (what I presume to be) his own cum dripping down a batman mask? Cringe.

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