"The Cardboard Bernini"

The Cardboard Bernini - Directed by Olympia Stone

"The Cardboard Bernini," examines the work and life of artist James Grashow as he builds a giant cardboard fountain inspired by the work of the famous baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

James Grashow is an artist who has built—among many other things-- giant 15 foot tall fighting men, a city, and an ocean-- using paper mache, fabric, chicken wire and cardboard. More recently, he has begun making sculptures entirely out of corrugated cardboard and twist ties.

Several years ago, while visiting the home of his art dealer, Allan Stone (who was also the director’s father), he stumbled across some of his giant fighting men that had been put outside due to lack of space. They were disintegrating. Although it was deeply painful and shocking for Jimmy to see his work like that, it was also surprisingly beautiful. Jimmy felt that he was seeing the full arc of his artistic enterprise before him—including its end.

So, Grashow challenged himself to embrace the “back end” of his process, and decided to build a giant cardboard “fountain”—a Grashow “Bernini.” From its conception, Jimmy intended this work to be put outside to disintegrate. Work on the fountain began in 2007 and was completed in 2010. I have been documenting this process from the start.

Jimmy’s “corrugated fountain” premiered indoors on June 11, 2010 at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia, to great acclaim. After shows in New York City and Pittsburgh, Jimmy finally installed the fountain outdoors at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, CT on April 1, 2012. It was there for a total of six weeks, after which time Jimmy took his degraded cardboard masterpiece to the dumpster: “Ashes to ashes, mush to mush.”

"The Cardboard Bernini" is an intimate glimpse of an artist at work on what he considers might be his “final epic.” We follow Jimmy as he asks what is the point of art and creation? What is the connection between creation and destruction? And, ultimately, what is the point of our lives in the face of our mortality?

James Grashow Bio:
James Grashow was born in Brooklyn in 1942 and has been creating works that address themes of man, nature and mortality since the 1960's.

The scale of his work ranges from large environmental installations, through which the viewer traverses, to the delicate and contained world of his houseplants, where homes and buildings replace flowers and buds in intricately constructed bouquets.

James Grashow is also a well-known woodcut artist. His prints have appeared regularly in the New York Times and in virtually every well known periodical and publication through out the country.

James Grashow attended Pratt Institute where he received a BFA. On graduation, he was awarded a Fulbright Travel Grant for painting and graphics to Florence, Italy. After a year abroad, he returned to Pratt to receive his MFA.

James Grashow had his first sculpture show at the Allan Stone Gallery in 1966. This show began a relationship with the Allan Stone Gallery, which continues to this day.

James Grashow lives and works in Connecticut with his wife. They have two children and five fabulous grandchildren.


09.26.13 - 12:45 pm
1 hour 20 minutes
Bethel Public Library – Community Room