You’ve played a lot with pattern and design in your work. How did you
approach this project for W?
PRUITT: I’m interested in the arc of a project—how it starts with a singular focus. In this case it was the panda bear, this black and white animal that teeters on the brink of extinction. It’s been 11 years since my very first panda painting. I had this idea of mixing the panda with other black and white animals, because I think the panda looks this way so that it can camouflage into the environment. So I took that idea literally, thinking about fashion and patterns that are created by the human mind and hand, and I mixed it all together. I also thought about the biblical concept of when the lion lies down with the lamb, then there will be world peace. I could be misquoting, and I’m not the kind of person who ever actually goes back and does the research to see if he’s gotten it right. I was just thinking about this notion of animals and patterns that don’t necessarily go together. And then Chloë is this kind of Dian Fossey, with her career as an actress. She’s very comfortable inhabiting roles. I saw her as playing a benevolent ringleader in this world of creatures and becoming one herself, wearing black and white clashing patterns. Chloë was perfect because she’s known for not being afraid of fashion. So it just seemed like a good chance to do a project again and maybe wash away the bad memories of that haircut from 17 years ago.
SEVIGNY: For me, corralling the animals was difficult. There were a lot of creatures and a lot of people handling them. I felt like I let everybody down because I couldn’t hold the chicken. There was this tableau, and I was just another creature in it, just another piece of pattern.
PRUITT: It is. You would never know it by looking at me, but I’m totally into fashion, and I love to follow it. It’s sort of like a fat guy who watches sports on TV on the weekends.
There were moments that reminded
me so much of the Cecil Beaton Ascot scene in My Fair Lady. It was a
contemporary version of that.
PRUITT: I thought it was like that, too, but I didn’t plan it that way. As it was happening, it was like, Wow! This seems like something very familiar.
SEVIGNY: I’ve never seen My Fair Lady. It’s Audrey Hepburn, right? I can’t stand Audrey Hepburn. It’s this character she created in Breakfast at Tiffany’s—a comic kind of New York City character. I don’t know, for me it’s just vapid. It irritates me.