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Mr. Brainwash (French, b.b. 1966)
Also known as: MR. BRAINWASHBiography:
Mr Brainwash (AKA Thierry Guetta) in his own words is “never not an artist, but born an artist.” Mr. Brainwash became the central figure in the 2010 documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop which was produced by the street artist Banksy. At the time, the character of Mr. Brainwash appeared to be a hoax perpetrated in the art world, but Brainwash has maintained art exhibitions and sales, creating a large following. His blend of pop imagery, historical figures, art history metanarratives, and image appropriation has produced an eclectic oeuvre.
Mr. Brainwash works predominantly with stencils, screen printing, and spray paint. Many of his works such as Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze, 2009, and Love is the Answer, 2012 are collaged from well known imagery of his subjects with the added background of intense color layering like one might find on a well used graffiti wall in Mr. Brainwash’s hometown of Los Angeles.
Within the imagery one can also find branding in the form of other images by Brainwash, as well as remixed and re-imagined icons from Andy Warhol, Banksy, and others. Some of these icons include spray paint cans with Warhol’s soup can motif, Banksy’s balloon girl, and the banana image from the Warhol produced Velvet Underground album.
In 2008, Mr. Brainwash held his first solo exhibition, Life is Beautiful, at the defunct CBS studios in Los Angeles. The event drew over 60,000 visitors and sold an estimated one million dollars in artworks. Madonna contracted the artist to design her greatest hits compilation album, Celebration, in 2009 which gained Mr. Brainwash even more attention.
After the release of Exit Through the Gift Shop, many critics and skeptics became suspicious that the whole persona of Mr. Brainwash was an elaborate hoax or prank on the art world. Others even went so far as to conclude that Banksy and Mr. Brainwash, were one in the same. While these conspiracies have mostly been debunked, there is no doubting the ability of Mr. Brainwash to create controversy, continue selling work, and drawing attention for both.
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