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

Credits

Starring: Jessica Chastain

Transcript

00:04
[Diane] For this years 7th Annual Art Issue,
00:06
we invited four leading contemporary artists
00:08
to create a work using the actress of
00:10
Jessica Chastain as their subject.
00:13
Chastain, the star of Kathryn Bigelow's new film,
00:15
Zero Dark Thirty is really game to collaborate
00:18
and to become a kind of human canvas.
00:20
As you can see in the images they created
00:23
for our January issue, each artist came up
00:25
with a different idea about their subject.
00:28
The British painter Chantal Joffe saw Chastain as a
00:31
figure from a painting by Gustav Klimt or Edvard Munch.
00:35
She thought there was something old fashioned
00:37
and romantic in Chastain's raw bone face.
00:40
And she wanted to photograph her in
00:42
a bedroom decorated with rich fabrics,
00:44
to capture her in a reflective intimate moment.
00:48
Since Joffe's afraid to fly,
00:50
she decided that she would direct the
00:52
shoot from her London studio via Skype.
00:55
Something she'd actually never done before.
00:58
Painted not only from the Polaroids
01:00
and images that Max Vadukul shot that day,
01:03
but also from her own observations of Chastain.
01:08
(soft music)
01:10
I think you can see in American artist,
01:12
Mickalene Thomas's works for our artist shoot
01:14
but Chastain was clearly not herself.
01:17
Thomas based her series on a character played by
01:19
Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1983 film, Scarface.
01:23
Here Chastain is channeling in a drug pin's girlfriend.
01:30
In a very different mood are the portraits by the
01:32
Dutch artist, Rineke Dijkstra whose work was the
01:34
focus of a major retrospective recently
01:36
at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
01:39
Dijkstra seems to lock eyes with her subjects
01:41
and dare them and the viewer to look away.
01:43
She's really a master at capturing psychological nuance.
01:47
And she's best known at photographing
01:49
people at a point of change.
01:51
You know, adolescents on the beach.
01:53
Dijkstra loved Chastain's red hair,
01:55
porcelain skin and blue eyes.
01:57
And she wanted to photograph her against
01:58
a non de-script background in neutral colors.
02:01
(soft music)
02:06
George Condo loved the idea of featuring
02:08
Chastain as a character in his
02:10
painting not as the subject of it.
02:12
Condo is best known for his fiercely wacky
02:15
portraits but here he wanted to bring together
02:17
in one painting the seemingly opposing worlds
02:20
of portraiture and abstract expressionism.
02:23
To make the works for this particular portfolio,
02:26
he decided to paint a canvas with the dress taped to it.
02:29
And then he removed the dress afterward
02:32
so it would leave an empty space.
02:34
When Jessica put on the dress, and stood in
02:36
front of the blank space on the canvas,
02:38
it would appear as if she was part of the painting
02:41
and happen to be coming off of it.
02:43
So it would look really as if she were breaking free.
02:47
Condo had Jimmie Hendrix playing on the record player
02:49
the day we shot these images in his Manhattan studio
02:52
and when he saw Jessica standing in front of the
02:54
canvas he painted, wearing the dress he'd painted,
02:57
he realized to make her blend with the other
02:59
crazy characters on the canvas, he needed to
03:02
paint a few more figures closer to her head.
03:05
So it would look as if they were whispering into her ear.
03:09
He also suggested painting her face, the better to
03:12
make her blend in with these other loopy characters.
03:14
And to create a kind of 3-D animation.
03:17
So while Chastain was having makeup applied
03:20
to half her face, Condo suddenly thought
03:22
a popped out eye would be just the thing she needed.
03:27
(soft music)