“Ashes to ashes, mush to mush.”

— James Grashow

About the Film

My film, "The Cardboard Bernini," examines the work and life of artist James Grashow as he builds a giant cardboard fountain inspired by the work of the famous baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

James Grashow is an artist who has built—among many other things-- giant 15 foot tall fighting men, a city, and an ocean-- using paper mache, fabric, chicken wire and cardboard. More recently, he has begun making sculptures entirely out of corrugated cardboard and twist ties.

Several years ago, while visiting the home of his art dealer, Allan Stone (who was also my father), he stumbled across some of his giant fighting men that had been put outside due to lack of space. They were disintegrating. Although it was deeply painful and shocking for Jimmy to see his work like that, it was also surprisingly beautiful. Jimmy felt that he was seeing the full arc of his artistic enterprise before him—including its end.

So, Grashow challenged himself to embrace the “back end” of his process, and decided to build a giant cardboard “fountain”—a Grashow “Bernini.” From its conception, Jimmy intended this work to be put outside to disintegrate. Work on the fountain began in 2007 and was completed in 2010. I have been documenting this process from the start.
Jimmy’s “corrugated fountain” premiered indoors on June 11, 2010 at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia, to great acclaim. After shows in New York City and Pittsburgh, Jimmy finally installed the fountain outdoors at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, CT on April 1, 2012. It was there for a total of six weeks, after which time Jimmy took his degraded cardboard masterpiece to the dumpster: “Ashes to ashes, mush to mush.”

My film is an intimate glimpse of an artist at work on what he considers might be his “final epic.” We follow Jimmy as he asks what is the point of art and creation? What is the connection between creation and destruction? And, ultimately, what is the point of our lives in the face of our mortality?

“As you move through life, you lose ownership of your work, maybe like the way you lose ownership of your kids.”

— James Grashow


There are no screenings scheduled at this time.

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Past Screenings

“In the end, The Cardboard Bernini is a fascinating study of an artist and not just his work, but also the motivations and themes that spur the creation on.”

— Mark Bell, Film Threat


"An Evening with Filmmaker Olympia Stone"
Bangor Daily News – July 25, 2013

"Chapel Hill Filmmaker Celebrates an artwork's poignant end"
Herald-Sun--July 18, 2013

"The Cardboard Bernini" on the radio
"The Story" – May 31, 2013

"An Artwork Turns to Mush, All According to Plan"
The New York Times – May 13, 2013

"The Cardboard Bernini" Examines the Art of Dissolving Sculptures
Victoria Advocate – April 4, 2013

Review: "The Cardboard Bernini"
FilmThreat.com – March 26, 2013

The Life and Death of a Modern Masterpiece
Greenwich Citizen – March 7, 2013

Film Captures Transitory Nature of Art and Life
WUNC Radio interview – February 28, 2013

A Cardboard Fountain, Braving the Elements
nytimes.com – March 30, 2012 

The Joy is in the Journey: “The Cardboard Bernini”
santafefilmfestival.com – December 8, 2012

Santa Fe Film Festival: 'The Cardboard Bernini'
kcet.com – December 13, 2012 

Corrugated Creations: James “Jimmy” Grashow
VENU Magazine #8 – July & August, 2011

James Grashow's Magnificent Monument to Mortality
"Gallery & Studio" – June, July & August, 2011

James Grashow: Cardboard Bernini
CITYART.COM – March 22, 2011

James Grashow: Cardboard Bernini
ARTNET.COM – March 30, 2011

Arts & Extras: New exhibits evoke contrasts in mood at Taubman
THE ROANOKE TIMES – June 20, 2010


“Everything dissolves in eternity. I’d like to speak to that.”

— James Grashow




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