Tomorrow night, a show of work by the artist and filmmaker Larry Clark will open in Los Angeles at the new art center run by the Hollywood powerhouse UTA. But last week Clark was in New York, having stopped by for a four-day layover between Paris and L.A., to attend the opening of a group show curated by Aiden Tuite with Ryan McGinley, Dash Snow, and the photographer Sandy Kim on the Lower East Side. A few days later he would go to L.A. to hang his show, and hit the podcast circuit—Bret Easton Ellis, Marc Maron. And then he flies to Tokyo, for another show.
On top of all this, Clark told me at a TriBeCa coffeeshop around the corner from his loft and studio in Manhattan, he had food poisoning.
“I’m busy, man!” he said, telling me about the editing process for his new film, Marfa Girl 2, the sequel to the Texas-set 2012 film. A fancy joint hawking lattes seems like a strange place to run into Larry Clark, who is best known for his sexually explicit and subversive photography and films, and he thinks so, too—he’s been in the neighborhood for decades, and still thinks of it as bombed-out buildings, leaking squatters.
“It’s changed completely,” he said. “There were no street lights. And there were rats, man. I would walk home with the woman I would marry, and the rats would run across West Broadway.”
But he’s stuck around, and stayed at his loft while recovering from emergency back surgery in late 2013, during which time he took a break from photography and filmmaking to pursue a new medium: painting. After showing the new works to his friends Christopher Wool and Richard Prince, and getting a positive response, he decided he wanted to exhibit them. Eight will be in the show at UTA.
The exhibition brings him back to Hollywood, where he first strutted in during the mid ’90s as the hot, edgy director of the arthouse hit Kids, all set to direct his first studio picture, Another Day in Paradise. He clashed with the crew and famous actors, but stayed in Los Angeles for years after.
“I have good friends out there, actors, directors, cinematographers, but I haven’t been back in a while,” he said.
His last big show in that city was at his retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2000, but since then he’s been showing widely—he’s repped by Simon Lee Gallery in London and Luhring Augustine in New York. And he has plans to have a show in Paris next year where he will construct a skatepark and a stage, and invite Parisian street kids to come skate, and Parisian rocker kids to come play. In a way, it’s an extension of his most recent film, The Smell of Us, which was shot there, in French, and released in 2014.
“No one’s seen the paintings,” he told me, shortly before he got up to leave. “I have no idea what the reaction’s gonna be, but I feel fortunate to have a big nice new gallery that wants to show ’em! I know so many great artists that don’t have a gallery. It’s tough. I’m one of the lucky guys.”