A new book, The Dangerous Book Four Boys (Rizzoli), appears to be the catalog for James Franco’s 2010 exhibition of the same name at Clocktower gallery in New York. The show, a smattering of child-like video works, multimedia installations, and wood-and-nail sculptures, sought to give a glimpse into the artist’s mind and memory. For his part, Franco has defaced the book—nearly every page of it—with funny scribbles and sometimes obscene little pictures in black marker, like something out of a school notebook. This is the book’s art direction.
Apparently the actor and artist has done this as a means of explaining the book’s contents further. Never mind that serious art critics and curators—i.e. Klaus Biesenbach, Diana Picasso, and the shows own curator, Alanna Heiss—have submitted erudite essays on topics ranging from of boyhood and masculinity to desire and American mythology. Franco wants to tell you where exactly a picture was taken and who took it, or remind you that a cat you’re looking at is in fact a cat.
Or, that a penis he wears on his nose in one picture is the prosthetic penis—or “fake dick”—from the film Milk, which he starred in. The still is taken from a short video, Dicknose in Paris, in which he ambles around the City of Light sporting the prosthesis and no doubt startling strangers. It’s cute and jocular and deflates art of its earnestness for a moment. Is James Franco the most juvenile Oscar nominee the Academy history?