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Watercolor on linen painting of a young man pondering and another figure dressed as Bat Man amid the Hollywood traffic by Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant

Untitled (Hollywood 5), 2019

Watercolor on linen
© Gus Van Sant; Photo by Argenis Apolinario;
Courtesy the Artist and Vito Schnabel Gallery

While he’s best known as two-time Oscar-nominated director for such lauded films as Good Will Hunting and Milk, Gus Van Sant began his creative life as an art student at Rhode Island School of Design before switching majors to film.

“If you were an abstract painter, you might, when you’re in school, learn to paint like Da Vinci, see how far you can go in different directions,” Van Sant tells Art & Object on a recent sunny late summer morning over coffee on his patio overlooking the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory. “Chuck Close was asked how do you arrive at that thing you’re known for? And his answer was you do everything until finally something gets you going in the public eye and you freeze into that.”

For decades, Van Sant has been frozen into film.

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