In I Wanted to be an Actor, but I Could Never Remember My Lines, Brendan Donnelly re-appropriates framed film stills, headshots, red carpet paparazzi photos and postcards and turns them into styled juxtapositions of present day and yesteryear celebrities. This new series of works, Donnelly's latest, includes 16 framed collages, a DVD collection, and a large-scale collage mural.
A portion of the work, which will be exhibited in October at Show Gallery in Los Angeles, has been produced as a limited-edition book, designed by Taylor Giali, as part of H&B's California Artist Series.
Donnelly has spent over 30 years collecting ephemera sourced from various locations, including movie memorabilia stores, head shops, souvenir shops, newsstands, adult video stores, and bookstores on Hollywood Boulevard. Along with the keepsakes he collected as a youth in the 90s (and continues to collect), those objects have shaped his pedagogy. The result is a rich and provocative reflection on recognizable public artifacts that juxtapose celebrity scandals with politics and pop culture moments to paint a sweeping portrait of Donnelly’s appreciation—and criticism—of celebrity culture.
A large, production-style wall collage titled “Hollywood Babylon” (an homage to Kenneth Anger’s books about scandal and death in Hollywood), which includes found photos, tabloids, headshots, newspaper clippings, movie stills, and other ephemeral objects, becomes a whole narrative around the tragic, drug addled, desperate, dark and humorous sides of Hollywood culture.
I Wanted to be an Actor, but I Could Never Remember My Lines encapsulates the full clash of feelings inspired by the trappings of celebrity.
- Hat & Beard Press, 2023
- Softcover with French flaps, 192 pages
- 8 x 10 inches