Anthony James Puts the Art in Party
It’s noon on a Friday, and Anthony James can’t come to the phone. “He’s sleeping,” explains his wife Phoebe, sweetly. Apparently, the 31-year-old London-born New Yorker had been at Bungalow 8 ‘til 4am -- despite the fact that he was suffering from a sinus infection and jacked up on antibiotics.
“I was feeling better,” he admits later in the day. “So I wanted to go out and celebrate.”
To know Anthony James is mostly to know him in a social context. The guy’s got shaggy good looks, dresses well in that high-end downtown way (Junya Watanabe wool biker jacket, battered jeans, Converse high-tops), and rolls with an illustrious crew of fashion/art-world A-listers (Craig McDean, Amanda De Cadenet, Neville Wakefield included) to all the right parties.
As Artnet wrote earlier this year, “Few realized that James was all along a serious Minimal artist experimenting with light and space.” And, by ‘serious,’ they meant ‘devoted,’ not ‘devoid of humor.’
“I call it ‘Untitled: Finger Bang’,” jokes James, referring to one of his neon light boxes that, at first glance, looks like a giant scribble. It’s actually an incredibly intricate cross-section of the male anatomy, complete with a finger up the butt.
“It’s a sardonic allusion to the fact that I put so much effort into fabrication, I get anal-retentive,” he explains. Art advisor Doreen Remen and her husband Steve Weiner were so enamored by it, they bought it.
However, more revealing of James’ talent is a series of light boxes filled with white birch and two-way mirrors. When viewed up close, a vast enchanted forest appears. It’s a stunning sight. Art patron Beth Rudin DeWoody must agree -- she commissioned James to create one for her Palm Beach home.
“I’ve always been making minimalist-inspired structures containing different universes,” says the Central St. Martins grad, describing his first, less successful, construct: “It was an aquarium. I used holographic lenses, so the fish looked like they were swimming upside down. But, at the time, I had a studio in Chinatown, and it was a really hot summer…” he says, fading out like the fish did.
“It was a statement on society. A statement on the way we live. On containment,” he explains, still sounding a little groggy from his late-night revelry.
For the next two weeks, Anthony James’s work will be on view at Holasek Weir in NYC. The exhibition consists of four pieces: a lifesize aluminum figure, a birch box, and two boxes containing old chainsaws. “It’s inspired by Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors Even,” explains James. “The chainsaws are the bachelors, the forest is the bride stripped bare. It’s a comment on man using machines to process nature.”
Anthony James is on view until April 15th at Holasek Weir, 502 W. 27th St., NYC; 212-367-9093; holasekweir.com
Photo by Craig McDean for Arena Homme Plus, Summer/Autumn 2006