Can James Franco’s face improve these art-historical masterpieces?

In James Franco's solo exhibition in Chelsea, the actor-turned-meme reenacts Cindy Sherman's classic "Untitled Film Stills." Time Out New York wonders, Why stop there?

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  • Photograph: courtesy Uffizi gallery

    Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, 1486

  • Photograph: courtesy The Louvre

    Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, 1503–1517

  • Photograph: courtesy The Louvre

    School of Fontainebleau, FonGabrielle d'Estrées and one of her sisters, circa 1594

  • Photograph: courtesy National Gallery

    Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, Rokeby Venus, 1647–51

  • Photograph: courtesy Mauritshuis

    Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665

  • Photograph: courtesy Museo del Prado

    Francisco Goya, Nude Maja, 1800

  • Photograph: courtesy The Louvre

    Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Grande Odalisque, 1814

  • Photograph: courtesy Neue Galerie New York

    Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907

  • Amedeo Modigliani, Sleeping Nude with Arms Open (Red Nude), 1917

  • Photograph: courtesy Museum of Modern Art

    Pablo Picasso, Girl before a Mirror, 1932

Photograph: courtesy Uffizi gallery

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, 1486


Let's face it, James Franco isn't really just a movie star or celebrity anymore; he's become a meme, spreading virally into all reaches of culture, high and low. Right now, for instance, he's treading the boards on Broadway in an adaptation of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, and he has a solo exhibition at a fancy Chelsea gallery.

The last effort entails his reenactment of Cindy Sherman's classic "Untitled Film Stills," the black-and-white photo series in which the artist channeled various female movie-character types. For his version, Franco poses himself exactly as Sherman did, wearing the same outfits she wore in the originals and even going so far as to shoot his photos in the original locations. 

But with all due respect to Sherman, while all of this is fine and dandy, you have to wonder whether Franco is being ambitious enough. If he's going to go all gender-bendy with female icons of art history, why stop with Cindy Sherman? Couldn't all of art history be improved with a dash of Franco added? Time Out New York thinks so, and to prove it, we offer this selection of Franco-ized masterpieces. You can see right away that his presence makes an enormous difference.


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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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