Jerry Saltz and James Franco in Conversation in New York’s Art and Design Issue

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James Franco on the Art & Design issue cover. Photo: Maxine Helfman/New York Magazine

I’ve done everything that I can to respect these professions that I’m interested in,” James Franco tells New York Magazine’s senior art critic Jerry Saltz, in a conversation about why the art world hates him — and every other celebrity who tries to sneak into it. “I’ve gone to all these schools. I went to the art school that so many of my favorite artists have gone to. But when an actor goes into music, when an actor writes a book, when an actor goes into the art world — before it is even made, people are considering it bad.”

While tossing around ideas about how to contextualize James Franco on the cover of the Art and Design issue, “van-Gogh-as-tortured-artist was the one that stuck with us, because of Franco’s own complicated relationship to the art world,” says the magazine’s photography director, Jody Quon. “The image in our mind of van Gogh is a painting, so how do we translate the painting into a photograph?”

New York worked with photographer Maxine Helfman to produce the final image. “She has a very vivid sense of photography and a painterly quality as well,” says Quon. Helfman used to be a stylist and thus, knew how to render the bandage. “It should feel Old World, but with a photographic pop.”

Jerry Saltz and James Franco in Conversation