Is James Franco an artist? This is a question I thought I'd never ask as his first sighting in Spiderman left me with the idea he is probably an actor. Can an actor be an artist? Why not, but is James Franco an artist? Probably not.
The reference points are all there in his rendition of Cindy Sherman's historic film stills. The attention to detail is accurate. He shows us nothing we don't already know, but his fame has blown it out of scale. With work like this you could probably state he is an artist, but he should probably stick to acting.
A reference point I picked out in This is the end where he states everyone is an artist, even the sandwich makers at Subway - all in jest of course. He makes an interesting point. The 'artist' is under critique here, but perhaps this is not intentional. His belief that he is an artist is vague and these pictures are not really about Cindy Sherman, nor photography. They are humorous in parts and carry a very light sensation of art history. They are recreations after all, but would anybody care if these were made by Joe Blogs, (sorry Joe but your usually the example name). I don't think we would. His fame projects these photographs to be more than they are. All we need now is Robert Downy Junior to recreate Cindy Sherman's clown series and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to recreate Lee Friedlander's self portraits. It would look very similar after all but I'm not sure what it would achieve.
Seeing reviews of the show, it is not exactly famed in positive responses but it doesn't need to. It is just another blip on the map of art. A genre that can be anything and can be done by anyone. Whether its good or not it is anyone's preference, but I think it is good for the subject to have its lighter side pulled out. After all, are we going to keep our studious appearances as 'artists' all the time. At one point we were normal. The work is entertaining giving us an opportunity to put the brogues and glasses away for a few minutes.