Logan Criley: Art-Historical Icons, Loosed on the World

“I don’t usually watch movies but when I do, I watch Buñuel.”

Late last year, Absolut Art partnered with New York movie house Metrograph on a series of limited-edition prints that brought together 10 of today’s most innovative artists with some of cinema’s greatest achievements.

Among them was Los Angeles native Logan Criley, who is interested in the way that the icons of art history have become “floating signifiers” cut loose from their original contexts, whether on the Internet or in American architecture. Criley draws inspiration from literature, like Umberto Eco’s essay “Travels in Hyperreality” and André Malraux’s “Museum Without Walls,” and he believes that, instead of dismissing the fake by comparing it with the authentic, we can appreciate it as a category of its own. Criley has exhibited his work at venues like NYU’s 80WSE Gallery, and been featured in Artforum magazine.

We sat down with Criley, who chose to reimagine the poster for one of Catherine Deneuve’s most classic films, Belle de Jour, to discuss his creative process and distinct design approach.

The print is a very nice piece of understatement, boiling down one strain of imagery from the film and combining it with what you say was the director’s desire to shoot a Western into a very simple image. Did you go through and discard many ideas for the poster or did this strike you immediately? Or can you say a little more about how you developed the idea?

The poster design came to me in a classic, lightbulb moment of inspiration as I was re-watching Belle de Jour. Initially I considered a more conventional approach but saw the opportunity to elevate the poster to something more clever and understated. My design rewards people who have seen the film and delivers an unexpected mix of language and style that I hope anyone can enjoy.

Belle de Jour is such a classic, winning the Golden Lion in Venice, exploiting the incredible beauty and acting skills of of Catherine Deneuve, and offering a plot featuring numerous twists and turns. What made it the film you wanted to pay tribute to in this project?

I may never make anything as beautiful as Belle de Jour but at least I can pay my respect.

Are you a movie head generally? Can you say a little about how movies inspire or provoke you in your work generally?

I don’t usually watch movies but when I do, I watch Buñuel. How can you watch a film like Belle de Jour and not rush to your easel? Beauty is truth.

Can you tell us about your inspiration and thought process behind the print you created for Absolut Art and Metrograph?

It’s said that Luis Buñuel always dreamed of shooting a Western. This poster depicts Buñuel’s classic Belle de Jour as a cowboy movie. A playful take on the film’s motif of rope bondage and whips, the lasso lettering hints at a transgressive subtext. Inspired by Ed Ruscha’s text art and rodeo flyers, the poster draws a connection between erotic fantasy and wholesome Americana.