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Bull in the China Shop – Mr. Brainwash in Los Angeles

January 2, 2012

(Update: One Final day has been added to view this happy go lucky cacophony. Sunday Jan. 8th, doors open at 2pm.)

Happy New Year TruffleHunters! As the year came to a close, my curiosity got the better of me and I made it to Mr. Brainwash‘s latest extravaganza of Street Art called ArtShow2011. For those who may not know, Mr. Brainwash, AKA Thierry Guetta became a mini celebrity in a section of the art world when he mounted a similar pop up gonzo free for all in 2008. That exhibition, Mr. Brainwash himself and the not-so-under world of street art were subsequently the subject of a really entertaining documentary called Exit through the Gift Shop. The film made my Top Ten List on TruffleHunting last year.

While this world is not my usual destination, I felt compelled to see it in person. It was a scene. The atmosphere is that of a carnival with resplendant visual rides and similarly fascinating freakshows. The veneer is sincere and energetic. It’s easy to see why he has his followers and fans. Yet too much relies on gag-like jokes that amuse and fade nanoseconds apart. He’s the Henny Youngman of the street art set. This wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean attitude also makes someone like Banksy, Shepard Fairey or Swoon seem like poets in comparison.  At once trying to play the outsider, Guetta’s desire to be on the stage that he mocks (and cribs from) is too transparent. I do however celebrate the goofy simultaneity that the greater artworld has to offer.  That said, I will let my snapshots tell most of the cacophonous story of this short-lived enterprise. The exhibition has actually been extended for two more days. Visiting Hours begin at 2pm on both January 2nd and 3rd, 2012. Bring your sunscreen.

Mr. Brainwash as the Bull in the china shop.

Young Michael Jackson with an afro made of vinyl records. Sid Vicous to the left with the same technique.

18 Art world luminaries with the words “If everyone thought the same, Nothing would ever change.”

Founding Father jammin to the tunes.

Probably the most fetching images of the show. Manipulated vintage Photographs scanned, enlarged and finally silkscreened.

Charming little corner in a stairwell, densely collaged and painted.

Spock given the Brainwash treatment. The Hair, Lips and Eyeshadow are of course cribbed from Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Portrait.

Ditto the later MJ.

One of Richard Prince’s Nurses makes an appearance.

The Line on a bright hot day on La Brea. 85 degrees on December 29th!

Mr. Potato Head with Thierry Guetta’s signature Hat and Nike Shoes.

Decorative shovels and Colonel Sanders incarcerated by chickens.

Here’s how the LA Times covered it.  And here’s a nifty little piece about Mr. Guetta running afowl of copyright laws. Click on any of the Photos in the post for enlargements.


Mario M. Muller, January 1st, 2012

  1. Bob White permalink

    Thank you for making the plunge Mario. Love the spirit of the show. In the end it might be just the response to the fact that most of popular art history is seen through the eyes of the television.

    But then if you just posted the pictures and said you went to Art Basel in Miami I would have taken the bait.

    More fool who?

    • Oh, Mr. Brainwash regularily goes to Miami for the fairs. All he lacks is the tent. He’s got the Three Ring circus down!

  2. BossMoss permalink

    I so wish I could have been with you! What fun.
    Mr. Brainwash is the Thomas Kinkade of the glitterati!

  3. Banksy I like – he was cleverer, earlier and has a better sense of both humor and irony, and a lot more original thought. This guy, not so much – lots of cribbed ideas and a general hodge-podge. Fun, but so’s a quick one-liner that gives you a chuckle but doesn’t stay with you.

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