James Frey Is Writing A Children’s Book About Garden Gnomes Who Are Famous Artists

August 26, 2014 | Marina Galperina

Like a pro, James Frey keeps on diversifying. After A Million Little Pieces, a very successful and very fake nonfiction memoir about his “drug addiction” and “criminal past,” Frey wrote two more international bestsellers and founded a young adult transmedia sweatshop. His latest endeavor brings out his artsy side.

In 2012, when he was a co-owner of New York’s Half Gallery, Frey purchased a garden gnome of Picasso mowing the lawn from Elliott Arkin’s series A Peaceable Kingdom (2004-2012), which he thought was just great, “one of the most brilliantly funny works of art.” The artist asked Frey to write a catalogue essay for him, but Frey optioned the rights to the sculpture series instead and is adapting it into a children’s book. “I am thrilled to see what narrative James creates,” Arkin told the Art Newspaper. 

The series features several famous artist as gnomes going garden stuff, each sculpture idiosyncratically named with a title of a different artist’s famous artwork. In Fountain (like Duchamp’s urinal) Andy Warhol is standing on a Brillo pad box is filling a kiddie pool with a garden hose. Wrinkly little Picasso moving the lawn is called Seedbed, in reference to Vito Acconci masturbating under a gallery ramp. Georgia O’Keeffe with flowers next to a ram skull is named after Damien Hirst’s sharkThe Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. Because there’s a skull. Holy shit, they’re puns.

The book is due to published sometime in 2016. (Images: Amherst)