James Franco Directed a Gooey Video for Sotheby's

It's a nod to Renaissance Italian terracotta sculpture.

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Oct 21 2016, 7:45pm

GIF and screencaps via

Florentine terracotta sculpture gets James Franco-fied in a new video for Sotheby’s. The prolific actor, artist, and filmmaker created the four-minute film for the iconic auction house's Artist Response series, in which Sotheby's invites contemporary artists to create works that engage with its sales and exhibitions. Franco’s short film is inspired by the Renaissance Italian ceramics that comprise Glazed: The Legacy of The Della Robbia, on view to the public in New York City through November 18.

Formally, the mesmerizing video is four solid minutes of clear goo drenching some very patient models, who are frozen in poses that mimic sculptures in the show. A woman dressed as Mary emulates The Annunciate Virgin, a sculpture by Andrea della Robbia, circa 1505/1510. Glaze lacquers her veil, pouring down her face into pursed lips. A man framed by a wreath of lemons and greenery reinterprets a familial coat of arms by Marco (Fra Mattia) della Robbia from 1510. And in homage to Giovanni della Robbia’s Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, Blessing, circa 1510/1520, a figure sits with hand raised in benediction, while globules collect in his sheepskin chemise.

Glazed showcases 19 iconic sculptures by the Della Robbia family of Italian artisans, famous for creating both religious and secular varnished clay sculptures in Renaissance Florence. “For centuries, sculpture has been used decoratively and as iconography. The Della Robbia family created sculptures that take on both of those roles,” Franco says in a press release.

“I was immediately struck by the vibrancy and shine of the glaze of the Della Robbia sculptures in this show, especially the human forms frozen in time as icons. To mimic and modernize these sculptures, I wanted to create living icons emphasizing the glazing process,” he continues. “I filmed them in slow motion so the viewer relishes in the passage of time and can imagine the tangible feeling of the liquid covering each living sculpture.”

Glazed: The Legacy of The Della Robbia is on view to the public through November 18.

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