Larry Clark "White Trash" Installation view, Luhring Augustine, New York (May 5 - June 18, 2017) Courtesy of the artists and Luhring Augustine, New York.



Don't Sleep on Larry Clark's "White Trash" Exhibit

Walking around the modern gallery Luhring Augustine Bushwick, a signature photo aesthetic holds true, while themes of adolescence, sexually-explicit black and whites, captivating retro movie posters, and artwork by Adam Rolston—emulating an empty Trojan Condom packaging box. Filmmaker, photographer, and art collector Larry Clark has created decades of artwork that illustrate his arousing yet cathartic experiences, referenced in the photography book Tulsa, and controversial insight of drug abuse, underage drinking, along with hypersexual teens in films like Kids and Marfa Girl. The capturer of moments has recently unveiled his personal collection of art, titled “White Trash”—an inspiration throughout the years to continue to create films and more recently dive into his love of painting.

We spoke with the enthralling Clark about his provocative art collection, creative process, and future film projects. Read the full interview below, and catch the “White Trash” exhibit at the Luhring Augustine Bushwick before it ends (your last day to peep is June 18).

As a photographer and film director, can you tell us about your journey into those realms of art?

Well, I’ve been a photographer since I was a kid and my mother photographed babies for a living so I was forced to help her while I was young and always had a camera in my hand. I started photographing my friends and I thought I could use photography as a form of expression and that’s how I started. I always wanted to be a film-maker and that took a long time but I always had a very clear vision which I think made it maybe not easier but I knew exactly what I wanted.

Instead of featuring your artwork, you gave viewers insight to your personal taste by showing your collection at Luhring Augustine Bushwick. Will you tell us your history of collecting?

I’ve been collecting since I was in school probably like 18 or 19 years old. I went to a two-year photography school that was in the basement of an art school and I hung out with artists, painters, sculptors and my first two girlfriends were painters so I’ve been collecting since then. So it’s been a long time. It’s such a fun collection an interesting collection that people like and it turned out to be a good show.

How would you describe your collection aesthetically and have any specific pieces influenced any of your projects?

I think they give me the inspiration to keep going, to keep working, and so much of this work inspires me to keep making work myself; rather than influence me, it inspires me. A lot of the pieces have inspired me, especially the wall pieces by Richard Prince and everybody, quite a few pieces do that for me—make want to make art make me interested in art where is it going what are the kids going to be doing in a few years, we don’t know but it’s interesting for me to think about that and to watch because something new is always happening and there are always new artists which are quite exciting for me.

Are there any new artists that have caught your eye?

The photographer Sandy Kim I like a lot. She’s a good one. There are quite a few that I like.

What was the process of selection for the “White Trash” show?

We just took all the art there and put it on the wall. It was really fun and interesting to put that much work on the walls and make it work as an exhibition and we got most of the work in not all of it but a lot. It took a week to put everything up. I got everything in that I thought was important it worked out well. Showing work that I’ve had for a long time from artists that aren’t that well known like Brian Weil he passed a long time ago and most people don’t know his work. It was nice to show him and some other artists.

What was your first piece of art you collected besides the artwork given to you by your hot college girlfriends?

[Laughs] Right right. Probably some photographs by my friends a long time ago. There was a photograph by Tom Zimmerman from the 60s of a truck on the highway in the distance was one of my first pieces.

What was the inspiration behind the name “White Trash”?

The poster. I’ve had it on my wall for twenty years or so and it seemed to make sense. It was actually Lawrence Luhring from the Luhring Augustine gallery that came up with the idea he suggested to use the “White Trash” poster for the show which I thought was brilliant. I’m glad quite a few people came out the last couple of weeks and I hope more people come to see it, I think people will have a lot of fun.

Yeah, I’m sure a ton of people will check it out. When I visited the collection, it was a Saturday and stayed for about an hour. While I was there the traffic had a nice flow.

Yeah, and it’s such a big space and a lot of great room for that work.

What I thought was interesting about the space was that it’s very modern and the artwork like your films are nostalgic and somewhat western where Brooklyn meets western America. Even though it has a throwback feel the work still feels current because the trends are prevalent and messages are reoccurring because young people still have growing pains, doing drugs, and having sex which is still relatable.   

[Laughs] That’s the way it goes.

At the exhibit, I noticed Kids references, when you see other artists referencing your work does that create a sense of nostalgic achievement for you?

I’m glad that people liked the film and gave them some inspiration to make work so yes it’s very satisfying for me. Also, the actors in the film were first-time actors like Chloe Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, and Leo Fitzpatrick managed quite a fine careers from that film which is very satisfying and makes me happy.

You have a signature style in your photography and films especially Marfa Girl which I love…

Well, thank you! We just finished Marfa Girl 2 that should be coming out this year.

Is it the same cast?

Yes, same cast a couple of new cast members. Miguel who was Donna’s boyfriend in the first film who you never saw in jail has a big role.

Oh wow! That’s going to be great. But yeah, you definitely have a signature style in your films like Marfa Girl, Kids, and Another Day in Paradise. What’s your attraction to adolescent youth?

It’s turned out to be my territory. I’ve been making work since I was that age with my friends. It’s kind of a bottomless well of information that I can draw on, it just happened, it’s a natural thing. I was always interested how people grew up and a lot of the work was about how I grew up.

What projects can we look forward to in the future?

Marfa Girl 2 and my first film The Smell of Us will be coming out in America that hasn’t been seen so I have a couple of films coming out, it’s going to be a good year I think. Plus, I’m painting again and I’m happy for doing that.

Featured image courtesy of George Horner; White Trash, 1990; © George Horner; Courtesy of George Horner, Dinter Fine Art, and Luhring Augustine Bushwick, New York

Stay tuned to Milk for more NYC art happenings. 

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