Gus Van Sant’s Young Hollywood Icons, Revisited

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Nicole Kidman. Photo: Gus Van Sant

American filmmaker Gus Van Sant is best known as a director: His oeuvre includes Good Will Hunting and the iconic 2008 biopic Milk, not to mention a 1998 remake of Psycho starring Vince Vaughn. But his skill set extends beyond the silver screen: a painter, photographer, musician, and writer, the multifaceted filmmaker has produced works of art in a wide array of media over the course of his 30-year career.

Gus Van Sant: Icons, out June 28 from Actes Sud, examines Van Sant’s diverse work in film as filtered through his visual art, all anchored by a never-before-published 2015 interview with Matthieu Orléans, in which Van Sant cites his influences, recalls personal anecdotes, and exposes the production processes of his films.

The book is being published in conjunction with an exhibition at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris, curated by Orléans and on view until July 31, which displays a collection of artwork as varied as Van Sant’s films: entire rooms dedicated to large-scale painting, ethereal photography, and even watercolors, plus a selection of Polaroids taken in the ’80s and ’90s. Both the exhibit and the book are a refreshing take on an accomplished but somewhat mysterious artist.

Click ahead for retro shots of Hollywood stars, including Nicole Kidman in a ’90s patterned skirt-suit, a young Drew Barrymore in black and white, Keanu Reeves, and River Phoenix.