Photo: Exit Through The Gift Shop
Critics of contemporary art say stars like Pollack and Warhol were masters of marketing, not art. A more recent example is Thierry Guetta, a Frenchman who took the art world by storm in 2008.Guetta’s sudden rise was chronicled in Exit Through the Gift Shop, a documentary by street artist Banksy. If you missed it on the art house circuit, you can catch it on Netflix instant watch.
While some believe Guetta is a product of Banksy himself created to make a statement about the art world, Banksy insists that Guetta is a real person. Either way, art collectors fell for it.
This is Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant who owns a clothing store. He says he's obsessed with cameras and filming.
Guetta's life changes when he's introduced to street art through his cousin, Invader, a Parisian who is among the best-known in the business.
Guetta says he's making a film about street art and gets to interview Shepard Fairey, best known for his portrait of President Obama. He also observes his techniques for creating art, such as screen printing.
Guetta also becomes close with Banksy, the most famous street artist in the world. Banksy initially lets Guetta follow him for the film but then realises he has no talent as a filmmaker.
Then, Guetta is inspired by an L.A. show Banksy did which included this painted elephant, and a media blitz. Banksy raised millions of dollars at the show.
Using techniques he learned from other street artists, Guetta begins posting this image all over Los Angeles.
Then he decides to remortgage his house and hire a staff of 20 to create art for him. Here he has shown one of his hired help some images he wants printed and photoshopped by placing post-it notes in a book.
Guetta begins to go by the name Mr. Brainwash. He doesn't do any of the work himself, leaving it to the artists he hired. Here's a painting of Elvis holding a toy gun instead of a guitar.
Guetta's workers spend much of their time in PhotoShop, creating images they think are similar to what Guetta is asking for.
Guetta also decides he's going to hire sculptors to make items like these 8-foot cans of spray paint.
Eventually, Guetta picks a venue for his art show, the massive CBS complex. He's determined to fill it with all kinds of art.
With his team mass-producing, Guetta is able to amass more than 200 pieces of art. He's ready to start promoting his show.
Before the show can even open, art collectors start calling. He charges $30,000 for the painting seen below.
Guetta eventually hires some of Banksy's promoters to set up his show. They get to work hanging all the art and making each room look legitimate.
By 3 p.m. on show day, a crowd of 2,000 people have already gathered, calling Mr. Brainwash's show the art event of the year.
More than 4,000 people attend the first night of the event. Guetta's profit is more than $1 million, and he's gone on to design album artwork for Madonna.
Banksy says he feels that Mr. Brainwash shows flaws in the art world, and he'll never assist another person again.
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