Jessica Chastain: The Muse
Actress Jessica Chastain plays human canvas to four leading artists of the day. Watch the making of W's January covers.
Released on 12/17/2012
[Diane] For this years 7th Annual Art Issue,
we invited four leading contemporary artists
to create a work using the actress of
Jessica Chastain as their subject.
Chastain, the star of Kathryn Bigelow's new film,
Zero Dark Thirty is really game to collaborate
and to become a kind of human canvas.
As you can see in the images they created
for our January issue, each artist came up
with a different idea about their subject.
The British painter Chantal Joffe saw Chastain as a
figure from a painting by Gustav Klimt or Edvard Munch.
She thought there was something old fashioned
and romantic in Chastain's raw bone face.
And she wanted to photograph her in
a bedroom decorated with rich fabrics,
to capture her in a reflective intimate moment.
Since Joffe's afraid to fly,
she decided that she would direct the
shoot from her London studio via Skype.
Something she'd actually never done before.
Painted not only from the Polaroids
and images that Max Vadukul shot that day,
but also from her own observations of Chastain.
I think you can see in American artist,
Mickalene Thomas's works for our artist shoot
but Chastain was clearly not herself.
Thomas based her series on a character played by
Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1983 film, Scarface.
Here Chastain is channeling in a drug pin's girlfriend.
In a very different mood are the portraits by the
Dutch artist, Rineke Dijkstra whose work was the
focus of a major retrospective recently
at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Dijkstra seems to lock eyes with her subjects
and dare them and the viewer to look away.
She's really a master at capturing psychological nuance.
And she's best known at photographing
people at a point of change.
You know, adolescents on the beach.
Dijkstra loved Chastain's red hair,
porcelain skin and blue eyes.
And she wanted to photograph her against
a non de-script background in neutral colors.
George Condo loved the idea of featuring
Chastain as a character in his
painting not as the subject of it.
Condo is best known for his fiercely wacky
portraits but here he wanted to bring together
in one painting the seemingly opposing worlds
of portraiture and abstract expressionism.
To make the works for this particular portfolio,
he decided to paint a canvas with the dress taped to it.
And then he removed the dress afterward
so it would leave an empty space.
When Jessica put on the dress, and stood in
front of the blank space on the canvas,
it would appear as if she was part of the painting
and happen to be coming off of it.
So it would look really as if she were breaking free.
Condo had Jimmie Hendrix playing on the record player
the day we shot these images in his Manhattan studio
and when he saw Jessica standing in front of the
canvas he painted, wearing the dress he'd painted,
he realized to make her blend with the other
crazy characters on the canvas, he needed to
paint a few more figures closer to her head.
So it would look as if they were whispering into her ear.
He also suggested painting her face, the better to
make her blend in with these other loopy characters.
And to create a kind of 3-D animation.
So while Chastain was having makeup applied
to half her face, Condo suddenly thought
a popped out eye would be just the thing she needed.