James Franco Launches "Museum Of Non-Visible Art"

Blog: 06.21.11

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 06:00 AM

Last week, James Franco and the art duo known as Praxis (Brainard and Delia Carey) kicked off a fundraising effort for a new project. Franco has his hands on so many projects that one wonders how he can execute them all, so this one is perhaps fitting in that Franco doesn’t have to execute anything. The Museum Of Non-Visible Art (MONA) is an art museum "composed entirely of ideas." Contributors describe their invisible artistic creation, and can then sell their work — in the form of a title and description card — which the buyer can frame and display prominently. (So far Franco and Praxis are the only contributors, though they have indicated they will invite more.)

No museum? No problem! Franco and Praxis plan to exhibit their non-visible art in the downtown Manhattan branch of the Guggenheim, a non-visible (in fact, never-built) museum, as part of a tour of Europe and the United States.

The other name for this is Conceptualism, a movement that was the cutting edge of art in the decade before Franco was born. But Conceptualism sounds a little off-putting, where “Non-Visible” sounds more like a cool gizmo, like something much, much thinner than an iPad. There’s been speculation that this new project is a hoax, but Franco is known to be an enthusiast of Conceptual art, and Praxis' previous endeavors suggest that this is an earnest attempt at popularizing an often-unloved genre. 

Title card from James Franco's MONA projectContributors to MONA describe their invisible artistic creation and can then sell their work, in the form of a title and description card. (Coursesty the artists, Praxis, 2011)

Praxis has been the first to admit that MONA is "only slightly different" from previous non-visible art, such as Yves Klein’s practically empty gallery from 1958 exhibited as The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, The Void (ouch), or Robert Barry's Telepathic Piece, in which the artist attempted to transmit his work telepathically. One important difference with this project is that old-school Conceptualism depended on art-world validation (galleries, museums, curators) to exist; it was an insider’s outsider art. Franco and Praxis, however, created a Kickstarter site where any old schlub can explore and buy non-visible art — or commission a new work, from Praxis, for a mere $150. MONA already has 60 backers, with pledges ranging from $1 to $10,000. The ideas include a 500-square-meter room filled with Jell-O, a short film based on Faulkner’s “Red Leaves,” and a giant Easter egg:

By Praxis — Sculpture — Golden Stone
 A very special sculpture that is made in an edition of three. It is a ten foot tall, foil covered easter egg. The ones that have the thin chocolate inside that could easily break. But this one — the golden stone, we call it — is much more than a cheery looking egg; it is the stone of immortality, the stone of youth, the stone of endless wealth.

To see some invisible art in person, head to PS 122 in Manhattan, June 22-25, where Praxis is giving tours of its "ghost portraits." They will describe invisible portraits of famous figures such as Andy Warhol and Charlie Chaplin — luckily, you already know what they look like.


Video: James Franco and Praxis explain their non-visible art project
(Video may not appear in Internet Explorer)


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Comments [2]

Ed from Seattle, WA

Even if he stole idea--so what. ALL artists steal ideas from each other. Maybe I'll steal this idea from James Franco.

I hope James Franco continues to steal ideas for a very long time, and that even more people steal ideas from him.

Jun. 29 2011 12:35 AM

“This was a project copied by Franco! It was done by a collaborat ive group of his classmates from digital media at RISD back in the fall. Maybe it is only called plagiarism if you aren't famous!

It was done before in a class at risd by his classmate Jason Huff. The certificates they gave out are virtually identical in style and content. I know you can't do anything about idea theft in art, but come on James, be a little less obvious.

Jun. 22 2011 12:32 AM

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