Neu Black

Featured Artist – Mr. Brainwash

Mr. Brainwash Solo Show Life is Beautiful

It seems only appropriate that we put Mr. Brainwash in league with this generation’s most illusive and notable street artists. Both Banksy and Shepard Fairey have paved the way for MBW to put together his first major Los Angeles showing, “Life is Beautiful.” Mr. Brainwash, a.k.a. Thierry Guetta, started his career as a French documentary film maker, transitioned into a rogue street artist, and has now emerged as one of the most prominent pop artists on the scene today.

He’s has put together the largest scale art happening Los Angeles has seen, rivaled only by Banky’s 2006 “Barely Legal” show held in downtown Los Angeles. To accomplish such a feat MBW called on Daniel Salin to produce the show, Salin also produced “Barely Legal,” and Swindle magazine co-founder Roger Gastman as a consultant. To promote the show MBW had been dropping samples of pieces all around town. We spotted wheat pasted images up in Hollywood, Silver Lake, Melrose and Miracle Mile for starters.

And finally on the evening of Wednesday June 18th we estimate approximately 5,000+ eager MBW enthusiasts lined up around the block several times over, waiting to catch a glimpse of the hype.

Mr. Brainwash Solo Show Life is Beautiful

The work of “Life is Beautiful” is rooted in pop art. As Warhol looked to icons of consumer culture and celebrity, MBW looks to art and entertainment as the subjects of his work. Early pop art departed from art’s tradition in favor of images of popular culture. Mr. Brainwash includes artistic tradition and even prior pop art as the subject of his work.

Artistic icons such as Fountain (Marcel Duchamp, 1917) and American Gothic (Grant Wood, 1930) were revisited and remixed to create new works. MBW also references Robert Indiana, Claes Oldenburg, and Jackson Pollock. This could be viewed as a coopting of tradition by the street or an attack on pop culture.

The use of CBS’s studio is a work in itself. By housing his work at the venue and transforming the space into something distinctly his own, an icon of pop culture was turned into a installation of subversive street art. The pop art torch has been passed.

Check out our Gallery featuring images of opening night and of the work of Mr. Brainwash.

Neu Black interviews Mr. Brainwash
Mr. Brainwash Solo Show Life is Beautiful

Neu Black: What are your feelings now that it’s finally opening night?:

MBW: I have no words to describe the feeling. I am surprised, blessed. I truly cannot speak. We never expected this kind of response. I am so happy to see such a mixed crowd there have been mothers, grandmothers, kids. Today feels more like a museum than an art show. I am touched that so many people would come to appreciate my work.

Neu Black: How do you feel about being compared to Bansky?:

MBW: I am blessed to be included in a category with such great artists. Especially in this my first solo show as an artist. This show is not just about the art but rather about the [people].

Neu Black: Will you be showing your work in other cities?:

MBW:Why Not. I am very glad that we did this first show in LA. People don’t see LA as a creative center. I feel that LA needed something like this, it’s even better that we did it in Hollywood. This building was the first motion picture studio in Hollywood. I Love Lucy started here and 50 years later MBW is bringing the world back.

Neu Black: What were your inspirations for the show?:

MBW: All of the artists I’ve seen inspire me. Banksy put me in the paper and said to me “you’ll do a show in June.” He brought me out of the box.

Know that nothing is impossible, if you really want to do something. You really have to want to do it. You think you see from your eyes but you really see from your heart. That’s why Life is Beautiful.

Neu Black: Now that this show is complete. What’s next for you?

MBW: Tomorrow. I try to appreciate each day and taken it one day at a time.

90 Responses to “Featured Artist – Mr. Brainwash”

  1. Erin Says:

    It’s Jackson Pollock not Polik.

  2. Anthony Says:

    Can we say hack? Seems like an ineffective Banksy knock off…

  3. Adriana Says:

    Great feature!

  4. Juan Rodruguez Says:

    Like John D. Rockefeller Claiming to be Diego Rivera

    Most people familiar with art know the story of Rockefeller commissioning Rivera to do a mural for Rockefeller Center and then, unhappy with the anti-capitalist themes, having the mural painted over. Rockefeller paid Rivera, bought the work and labor and design from him, thus, he could do whatever he wanted with the product. Maybe, if Mr. Rockefeller were alive today, instead of having workmen destroy Rivera’s art with whitewash, he would grab a spray can, splat some paint onto the workers’ faces, and claim the “finished” work to be his own.

    This week, hanging out every day at Mr. Brainwash’s mega McGallery, it took me a few days to notice a crew of workmen (yes, all male) hanging out, building, painting, hanging “art,” and filming. By my fourth day at the gallery, I had picked out who seemed permanent… and when I witnessed a young guy come outside to the courtyard and spray paint, I got a hunch that something was rotten in France. I hung back in the corner as this young guy with a faux hawk expertly tagged a table and then tagged the two guests books handed him. My days of hanging around and my ability to be unnoticeable (I am short bald guy that has the uncanny ability of disappearing into the background) paid off. I cornered several of the workers and found out who was who, who did what, and what was the real shuck and jive.



    The “saddest” artist in the world

    According to some of the actual people involved, “conceptualizing” is far too strong for what Mr. Brainwash does. It is more along the lines of: here is a pile of cast off material, do something with this – and thus his hired artist does. For further “illustration,” more along the lines of a patron asking a portrait painter to paint her portrait – no one would ever confuse the subject of the portrait with the painter of the portrait. No one would proclaim the brilliance of the subject for suggesting she be portrayed. In short, this is Mr. Brainwash’s schtick – he gives a loose direction (no design, no overarching theme, no attempt at coherence or style or comment) to an artist or craftsperson he has hired to create a work of art. How the artist interprets and renders this loose direction gets left entirely up to the artist. In some instances, Mr. Brainwash has splatted some spray paint on top of what his hired artists rendered. In others, not. And, if, like me, you viewed the show and grasped for what the thread among the works would be and could find none, you were right because the work was all done by different people largely left on their own to do the work. You know, like commissioned, rather than overseen. Yesterday, I even witnessed a fake studio be built upstairs ostensibly as a re-creation of his own. How sad is this? What prompted him to display, see, I have the toys to do this if I wanted to!

    Now, in earlier eras, like in Mr. Rockefeller’s and Diego Rivera’s day, this was known as patronage and usually done to support up and coming artists. Certainly, sometimes patrons suggested to artists what and whom they might render. No one, though, confused the patron and the artist. But fast forward a century, and Mr. Brainwash is asserting himself as an artist, just because he had the kernel of an idea. Usually, in other fields such as screenwriting or movie-making, laying claim to an idea is laughed out of court. “But your honor, the hot chick and the gun in that movie were my ideas!”

    Basically, Mr. Brainwash is a very wealthy guy who wants to buy his way into the art world as an artist, not as a patron. He does not need the money this art show is bringing in as evidenced by the lack of a price list and a printed catalog, the extreme disorganization of the selling such as amateurs handling the art and how no prices are listed next to the menagerie in his main gallery. The first two days, no price list existed, and still, as of Saturday, none had been printed. In short, this whole exercise is one Napoleonic sized vanity project.

    So why do this? Why does a guy go to all this trouble to pose as an artist, or rather, assert he is an artist, when he is not? I am reminded of Breakfast at Tiffany’s line about Holly Golightly — Q: Is she real? A: She is a real phony. That is, I asked people involved in this for months if this is a Marcel Duchamp hoax and they insist, no, Mr. Brainwash really believes. As a man, I can only wonder what sadness lurks in this fellow’s heart at not living up to someone else’s expectations. Is this a “Daddy thinks I’m a hapless boob so I’ll show him” kind of trip? Is success more important in the end in this guy’s heart than achievement? Does he really believe he can co-opt other people’s talent and one day he’ll magically awaken with some of his own?

    The most shocking thing I heard all week was from a man that said Mr. Brainwash said of all this art that he’d been doing it for ten years and just hoarding it. One simple test would prove whether this is true – invite in journalists to his studio to watch him work for a week and create another “masterpiece.” Come on, Mr. Brainwash, it’s worth it. Like any man worth his street cred, you’ll step up to defend your rep – you’ll take a punch and come back swinging. Give us your best shot. Let’s see you, by yourself, at work for a week.

    Sadly, the truth is Mr. Brainwash really wants to be an artist; the fact is, he is not. In fact. these people created most of the work you saw (and imagine if this show were to support these real artists, like a true patron would, rather than to promote Mr. Brainwash):

    The graffiti on the urinal courtesy of:

    The Campbell’s spray cans, the gargantuan paper bag (apparently already slotted for a museum display), the Rubik’s Cube, the piles of books, the TV robot, the hanging shoes (ostensibly, Mr. Brainwash is so unversed in actual street culture that when he decided to hang the shoes he did not know of their drug dealing reference), and lots of other cool built stuff:

    The cool paint splotches on the wall and the superior layout for the art was done by Mr. Brainwash’s brother Patric

    The super cool person made of film cans, the octopus hanging from the ceiling, and an assortment of other great sculptures. You can clearly see the line between the sculptures on display and this guy’s personal aesthetic and style. Take a cruise under sculpture:

    An assortment of local Los Angeles tag teams and graffiti artists (you know who you are)

    and, as far as I could find out, a lot of the Warhols, the prints, the record shard collages, etc. were done by the faux hawked kid I mentioned earlier in the article, one Roman Lefeburte about whom I could find nothing on the web. Apparently, he is Mr. Brainwash’s right hand (and also in this case, his left hand) dude, who does most of the art not done by the folks already listed above. He also reportedly is slated to get a cut of the profits on the work he did, or should we instead call it pay-off money?

    I asked several of the American artists if doing their work and having it sold as Mr. Brainwash’s was what they thought they were getting into when they signed on. No – they had expected an art factory of sorts, where someone actually gave them designs…

    And this list here is probably not comprehensive, but it is what I could find out by talking to folks and watching the goings and comings in the gallery.

    Yet, you may ask, at least he discovered great artists and gave them a chance, right? And where might Mr. Brainwash have found most of these talented people?

    Where does everyone else in this town find someone to pay to screw?


    Yes, he recruited most of these folks through ads on Craigslist. Yep. For real.

    Okay, okay, you say, so what? So what if the guy is a real phony? “His” “work” makes people happy. My take, after seeing this work again and again, not “his” “work” BUT the famous folks in “his” “work” or the ones he stole from make people happy. More than once I heard people say, “How much does the Bowie cost?” or “Look, there’s a baby Michael Jackson.” The happiness they were getting, I assert, was not from Mr. Brainwash’s “art,” but from seeing the faces and things most (well, most male ones anyway) Americans already know and love: Larry King, Marilyn Manson and Monroe, The Beatles, Britney, Madonna, Scarface, Jimi, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Mohammed Ali, Elvis, guns, stuffed animals, lesbian kisses, Billie Holliday, the Rubik’s Cube, Bowie, Jagger, Andy Warhol’s art, Keith Haring, police cars, books, Alfred Hitchcock, W. C. Fields, Run DMC, beer, etc. The whole experience has about the artistic merit and appeal of a trip to Madame Toussaud’s, except that the replicas here are cast with vinyl and paint instead of wax. Modus operandi: entertain with that which is already entertaining.

    As for any more sophisticated commentary, the beer cans packed with “crude” oil (Petrol Light) were the only things vaguely political in the whole show. The rest was like watching a “Remember the 30s, uh, the 40s, uh, the 80s, uh, last year” episode on VH-1, many, “damn, do you remember that?” moments, and the associations into one’s own experience with the pop person or object, rather than with Mr. Brainwash’s “art.” And, no, from watching Mr. Brainwash at work, I do not think internal fantasy escape on the part of the viewer was his intent. Frankly, his intent was to become a famous artist by using other people’s fame, artwork, and new work to do it. And his ploy to become famous is working: MTV wants him to be in a video and from the information I gleaned on my last trip through, LACMA met with him about a show.

    Not to say that over the course of this pageant I didn’t see a lot of people smiling. People commented positively to me that they felt welcome here – it didn’t feel stuffy or like what they expected from an art show – uptight people drinking wine. They felt that what they saw was accessible (again, the show is in Hollywood – around the corner from other tourist attractions designed to be crowd pleasers). For sure, many people attended this art show that normally would not go see art…. or make it Downtown to the Thursday Art Walk or over to Culver City to the galleries. Of course, I am happy to see people happy — but for the most part this really is the kind of happy one gets from finding a really great fake Gucci bag and passing it off as real, or, frankly, to folks who wouldn’t ever know the difference (or care). They like the name, the flash, and the bling regardless of how it gets dished up.

    For the record, Mr. Brainwash has decided to extend this self-aggrandizing hoopla one more week, so if you didn’t catch his lack of cache last week, you can see the works of the artists mentioned above this week, June 26 – 29.

    Article by Juan Rodriguez

  5. S W I F T Y Says:

    yeah , yeah , yeah been there done that 20 yrs go ! same old shit, same old icons , put a gun on it (not even an AK47) and everyone thinks its really crass ! wow outsider art or insider art ! elvis. monroe, another stencil , another carefully applied paintdrip ! surprised there wasnt a sid vicious (maybe there is ) hey why not do che – thats really original . maybe nothing is original – or maybe try and be original by sourcing your ripped material in a slightly more original way , blah blah blah blah really bored now
    this ting is really out of control now – i’m just going off now to get some cotton wool to pull over my eyes

  6. Juan Rodruguez Says:

    Uh — There is a Sid….

  7. S W I F T Y Says:

    whats a sid !!!!!!!!! i thought i was just being honest and opinionated ! oh i forgot its not PC to be opinionated these days ! nobody likes the truth ruth . nuff said

  8. Juan Rodruguez Says:

    Swifty — You asked whether there is a Sid Vicious and I answered that there is one. I think PC folks are plenty opinionated, btw.

  9. S W I F T Y Says:

    there is a sid ! i havnt seen the show and i already know whats in it ! kinda makes the point .

  10. Kellis of Neu Black Says:

    Hey Juan,

    I don’t mean to imply that your statement isn’t accurate, in fact if it is I’d like to confirm it. As I’m sure you know there are a lot of unsubstantiated rumors that fly across the internet, and as it turns out not all of them are true.

    Have any statements come out from the guys who claim to have done this art in part or in whole for Mr. Brainwash? I only ask this because it’s so easy to make anonymous accusations in this kind of forum, but if you have something that back this up, I for one would be very interested to see it.

  11. Juan Rodruguez Says:

    Hey, Kellis — Their websites are there… go check out what they do, especially the sculptor whose work, in my opinion, is especially obvious in the Mr. Brainwash show. At their websites, there is contact info… Maybe the easiest way to confirm is a straight out ask to them… Thanks for the interest!

  12. Alex Jones of Neu Black Says:

    Andy Warhol faced criticism in the 60s when he “mass-produced” his work by having others create it for him. Takashi Murakami has also relied on the skills of those he directs. Whether an artist/designer creates work himself is not important, especially in a conceptual or pop art context.

    French Artist Marcel Duchamp faced increadible criticism for taking a urinal and recognizing it as a piece of art. This is a point which Mr. Brainwash references in one of his pieces featuring a urinal covered in other people’s tagged names (image 27 of this article’s gallery). While Warhol and Duchamp took everyday items and reconized them as art, Mr. Brainwash takes it to the next level by recognizing their work as part of popular culture and presenting it as his own work.

    What makes Mr. Brainwash’s work so interesting is less about the aesthetic and more about prompting the conversations we are having here.

  13. S W I F T Y Says:

    I think you’ve all got the wrong end of the stick here – I’m not really interested in who made the works – most of them simply aren’t very good – there’s a distinct lack of cohesion , very poorly executed in many ways – these are works produced by someone who maybe has the idea but sure as hell doesnt really have the skills or the knowledge or the eye to pull it off ! The whole visual sampling thing has been around for nearly a good twenty years and to do that shit you need a keen eye – and even keener knowledge of art and popular culture and you need the skills to pull it off . Certain people have tried and failed , there are true originators out there -go and find them- dig deeper into the crates of graphic design and popular culture . What we have here is simply a rip of a rip – the first rip is genius – but after that its effect starts to wear off and cos he’s done it in LA and on a large scale – everyone thinks he’s the first. Wake up you lot – step a little further than your own back yard . If Brainy was inspired by Banksy – then who inspired Banksy and you maybe on the right tracks !

  14. Juan Rodruguez Says:

    Maybe so, Swifty… but the sculptor is actually pretty good. Go see his work and then dismiss it.

  15. Derek Walborn Says:

    Steven Spielberg gets credit for Jaws but only someone without any common sense would assume that he created every aspect of the film. Likewise, no one should think that MBW created every part of his show himself or hired outside help in secret.

    As far as the sculptures and installations go, which is what I was involved in, some were designed and created from the ground up by me and/or his other team members. Some were requested by him specifically. The great majority were collaborative with us and MBW bouncing ideas back and forth. Mr. Brainwash has stated himself that we were hired to “make his ideas better” with the unique perspective and expertise we each bring to the table. No matter what the design, we always kept MBW’s playfulness and sense of humor in mind.

    “Life Is Beautiful” is a show that could not have happened without collaboration, cooperation, and a mutual desire to make something that people are going to want to come to see. In three months myself and a group of around 5 other artists, MBW included, were able to turn a desolate, dusty studio into a vibrant, happening place. I think I can speak for everyone on his team when I say that we are as grateful to have found him as he is to have found us. He couldn’t have found a better team to help him out and we certainly wouldn’t have been able to find a better venue to display our work.

    As far as Craigslist goes, yes. That is how I, at least, got my position. Keep in mind that as an artist who is brand new to LA (I moved here barely three months ago) I can’t say that I am terribly bothered by the fact that I got here just in time to immediately start working on what would be the biggest show in Los Angeles AND get one of my sculptures in the LA Weekly (which mentioned that there was a “team” involved).

    For the record, we were videotaped and interviewed at all times as we built our sculptures for a documentary being shot by someone not associated with the project. Also, MBW is currently planning a book about the show which he told us will include names and photos of everyone who helped bring it to life as well as descriptions of what each person did. When I update my web site I will include photos from my work at the show in my portfolio and you can already see some at

    My advice is to come to the show and not take it too seriously. Put away your cynical, presumptuous, pretentious notions about what you think art should say. The show is fun, easy to look at, and not meant to reveal any gut-wrenching truths about society. Are you pissed off because you can’t find the poignant social implications of Elvis Presley holding a toy gun? Relax. There aren’t any. Have fun, relax, enjoy some complimentary organic beverages and if you are really that annoyed that MBW hasn’t given you the kind of imagery that you are so desperately looking for then use that energy to go create something that you can relate to. Create an artistic response instead of a negative, uncreative one.

    In closing, MBW does indeed have a team of hired artists. Anyone who comes to the show can find us hanging out wearing staff passes and you are welcome to approach us with any questions as to who did what and how it was done. We are more than willing to discuss the show and we are proud of our achievement.


    Oh, and by the way, it’s a huge SPIDER I built on the ceiling, not an octopus. Maybe we’ll do that next time and thank Juan for the idea.

  16. Justin Murphy Says:

    The fake here is actually this “Juan Rodruguez”. If you people want to really know whats going on, here’s the deal:

    Jaun Rodruguez, is not a short fat bald man, who disappeared into the background while we were working, because I talked to EVERYONE involved with this show, and this rant that Jaun goes on makes it crystal clear to me, that someone is out to expose MBW.

    But guess what? You cant. It is true I built that giant paper bag, We worked our asses off making a giant pile of books, and 3 giant spray paint cans, Did you really think that one man could do all of this? With a broken foot at that? Of course not.

    I have been working on this show since April when I met MBW. He came to my shop and talked about the ideas he had for this crazy art show. They seemed far fetched, but I told him anything is possible. My buddy Adam (who introduced us) and I made the first giant spray can, and brought it to him. Then MBW realized that we too were artists, and he could see that we were perfectly capable of bringing his ideas to fruition, without strict direction. Yes we even bounced ideas back and forth, in improved upon the things that he had already conceptualized.

    I have worked with this guy for the past two months, and I can assure all of you people, he IS an artist, just like the rest of the team that set out to produce this show. The amazing part is, none of this would have happened without this man’s vision, and its very true, that it wouldn’t have been such a huge success without the team of artists, that he recruited from yes, Craigslist. Juan says that like its a bad thing, but look at the outcome. Who knew that this group he whipped together would work so well with each other, and be able to pull off what is now turning out to be one of the hugest art spectacles LA has seen in years? In fact, our whole team is planning on working together again to create more incredible art experiences, in other cities. MBW is a machine, and our team is the oil that keeps it going.

    As far as copying work goes, yes alot of the imagery existed before it was put on a canvas or print in the gallery, in fact most of it did. Thats the point of the work, He is taking cultural icons you see everyday, and mixing them together to make you think, remember, become nostalgic. You know who else does something similar? Shepard Fairey. But who cares? That is a common practice for artists and designers. Shepard is inspired by old propaganda, and MBW inspired by pop culture, both of these guys are talented artist, who deserve to be respected for what they are trying to do in the art world. If you think mbw isnt an artist, you should study up on Duchamp, he could barely draw, most of his work was found objects he just signed. And what educated artist cant recognize his name?

    Brainwash’s show is titled “Life is Beautiful” There are no negative icons, or imagery in the whole gallery, the experience you have when you enter the space is meant to be a positive one. Shame on you “Juan” for trying to turn this into something negative.

    What was accomplished by this man was not all the art in the space, that’s crazy to even think of one man taking on. It was the fact that he got all of us to pool together our collective thoughts and ideas, and directed us well enough to work together, and create the show in such a short amount of time. The man deserves praise, he doesn’t have a bad bone in his body. All he wants is for people to enjoy an art experience, and for people to be happy. Frankly, I’m more than proud to say I helped, and was a part of it. But i really didn’t need credit for the work, I’m just happy to see people enjoying it.

    If anyone has any questions regarding any aspect of the show, feel free to ask me personally,

    As far as Juan is concerned, I’m sorry about whatever it is that filled you with so much animosity that you had to blog all over the Internet about MBW being a fake. You should try and relax a bit and enjoy LIFE, after all it IS just art, and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.
    Oh, and no matter how hard you try, you cant stop what MBW has started, because we wont stop.

  17. Toshi Jones of Neu Black Says:

    Many thanks to Justin Murphy and Derek Walborn for contributing their first hand knowledge and clearing the air of some of the rumors. For a show as large as this, it is only to be expected that the execution would be a collaborative effort. Props to everyone involved in making this show happen.

  18. Juan Rodiguez Says:

    It’s great to have one of the artists involved actually comment on his own perspective. It will also be interesting to see if Mr. Brainwash actually does point to the artists who built things from the ground up with their own perspectives/ideas in mind and if he gives them public credit. As of everything I have read thus far that he has said to the press, I had yet to find him doing that. Maybe my post will force some discussion in that direction.
    As for what art says or shouldn’t say, I have nothing to dictate there. The only thing I ask for is some honesty — whether it be pop, political, pap, or pulp.
    As for speaking for the whole team, it would be great to hear the other artists involved speak for themselves… I am very glad to hear Walborn’s perspective, and as I duly noted, I think he has talent. It would be great to see more of his work noted as his work.
    Sorry on the octopus/spider confusion, man — as you noted, it’s supposed to be all in fun, so what’s the difference if I call one the other, or, if someone says it’s his idea and it’s not — all the same, I guess. Sematics, huh? Cynical to propose otherwise. Let’s all just feel good.

  19. Juan Rodiguez Says:

    Just now saw Justin’s post — cool to have people involved step up and talk about what they did. I hope we learn more about who did what and what they actually did.

  20. Juan Rodiguez Says:

    Who is Juan Rodriguez? Maybe I am Jean Rodriguez, a fellow French national to Mr. Brainwash…. or maybe I am actually in the employ of Thierry Guetta and I am part of Mr. Brainwash’s alterego. Maybe this is all part of the plan — the artistic vision — to get the real Mr. Brainwashes to stand up. On the payroll or not.

    And, uh, police cars are not negative to anyone? Guns pointed at people are not negative? Oh come on, negativity or good vibes are in the eye of the beholder, n’est pas? No one thinks that the installation part of this show was done by one man — that is preposterous…. but one man has claimed that he did all the art — all of it, including the envisioning of it all — and what is art if not the claiming of a vision. Walborn noted in his own defense that Mr. Brainwash did not envision parts of the show — he is using other people’s actual work (not parodies) as his own. I mean, Walborn, if you start selling your own work, do you want to be noted as a spin-off from Mr. Brainwash? Fine, if so. It’s your choice.

    But as I said, maybe I am Mr. Brainwash. Maybe noting what I noted is all part of my plan..

  21. jimbo Says:

    The line was long and the talent was short. Painting celebrities is the work of hacks. Warhol had been there and done that. Let’s a agree with a self-aggrandizing shallow piece of crap. Step up your game or get out..poser!!

  22. RMutt1917 Says:

    Duchamp did not “recognize” the urinal (or the other Readymades) as art. They became art only after he declared them to be art (which was after he altered them ever so slightly)… Kills me when people bring him up in these discussions…

  23. SLide Says:

    I was there… waited in line 2 hours.. got my free limited ed. signed Elvis print (already demanding $350 on EBAY) and was ready to bail when I saw the space itself… it’s not a gallery, it’s a ghetto… it’s SoHo circa 1980… it’s raw and the art is real… i see exposed wires dangling from the rafters, i see robots built from television sets. I see old western sepia-toned portraits of RUN-DMC and Darth Vader alongside g’ma and g’pa moses. I’m hypnotized by the sheer magic of the space, the art, the buzz, the colors, the ireverant humor. I guess if you didn’t “get it” then maybe you were looking for some deeper transcendental enlightenment… not here, nope! Sorry folks. Mr. Brainwash is serving up Disneyland meets Watts… this is your brains on a pop culture frying pan. Lighten up LA…. it’s a thrill ride, not a thesis.

  24. Derek Walborn Says:

    To clarify, my words were in no way meant to imply that Mr. Brainwash does not deserve credit for his show, as some people have interpreted. I apologize to anyone who was misled by any insinuations otherwise. He has been preparing Life Is Beautiful for over a decade. Rest assured, Mr. Brainwash had and continues to have the final say in each and every idea or project. He is a genuine person who knows what he wants and takes the appropriate measures to make his dreams a reality.

    Also, there is only ONE Mr. Brainwash and Juan claiming to be him is offensive, malicious, and serves only to confuse the public. Anyone who has come to the show and met with MBW can easily say that you would be hard pressed to find a more sincere, goal-oriented, open-hearted artist in the community. An artist who asks nothing of his audience but to enjoy themselves. It is shameful that there are those out there who feel compelled to try to debase him by trying to expose some kind of evil or wrongdoing and I am appalled by how many such people exist. The implication that his name is somehow invalidated or illegitimately applied to Life Is Beautiful because he, as one man, could not possibly put it all together on his own is completely out of line and any research into the most famous artists of our time will prove that to be true.

    This is the last I will say on this matter, which really shouldn’t be an issue at all.

  25. Juan Rodruguez Says:

    I throw up my hands, Brooklyn, “wadda ya gonna do” style on this, the “artists” involved, and the “artist” MBW. Good intentions, yeah, yeah, yeah. Enjoy, at least, the Keith Haring copy for what it is. ‘Nuff said there. On to more worthwhile causes, people, and things.

  26. Roger Thiero Says:

    Absolute and utter fraud was all that took place in that building, and I happen to know artist’s who worked first hand on the show for Mr. Brainwash and confirmed this. His name is perfectly suited for what he does, Brainwashing know nothing art consumers who are just dying to be in on the new thing.

    He has no street credibility, he actually damaged two memorial murals for a deceased Los Angeles based artist putting up promotional work for his show and the fact that he produced none of the work there on his own is utterly ridiculous.

  27. Kelly Says:

    so i hear what everyone is saying. i went to the show and saw the photos of mr. brainwash posing with his art. i liked the show but i looked at it like he was making most of the stuff himself. warhol didn’t make his stuff himself later on but he was a graphic designer first and had chops. shepherd fairey also runs a design firm and went to art school so we know he has some sort of chops somewhere even if he doesn’t make all his work on his own. my question is if mr. brainwash has any chops. would any of the artist that worked on this maybe check in. i had fun at the show and took more people to go see it.

  28. Rich Says:

    I went to his show.

    I hope that the show is part of a larger art-piece-documentary on how subversive art has turned hyped-commercial in the wake of many “low-brow” artists cashing in with toys and stickers. (No judgement on my part, I like the idea of artists making ca$h while they are young!)

    The art was lame recycled concepts with poor quality execution. Many items were simply printed on a large format printer with some paint slathered over them. The opening night was a work of art though, paid bloggers, hype galore and all being caught on video. If this is part of a bigger piece then kuddos, otherwise yawn.

  29. JJ Flash Says:

    Juan Rodriguez – I’d love to meet you in person, you obviously have a chip the size of Kansas on your shoulder. Maybe we could have a little therapy session, you could tell me all about how daddy used to abuse, you which turned you into the negative, spiteful little turd you are today.
    I don’t know whether you really are a short fat man – but you sure are on the inside.

  30. KAWS Says:

    Sorry to brake up the party kids. But Mr Brainwash (MBW) is Banksy. Im close with 1 of Banksys lawyers and he confirmed that the whole MBW thing is funded by Banksy. The thousands of dollars worth of props on the lawn, and inside were all paid for and transported on Banksys dime. The guy with the stash is a close friend of Banksy who agreed to pose as the fake artist. Its all to prove he doesnt have to use the brand Banksy. He wanted to start from nothing, and get to the same level in less then a half a year. Banksys not going anywhere. But the whole MBW thing is a prank. I think its amazing how people actually believed that some shmuck off the street could magicly decide last month he wanted to become an artist, and fill a warehouse with half a million dollars worth of finished work, and put a giant lunch bag on the lawn, and a 2 story Elvis on the front door.. WTF are you people smoking?? I will admit at first I didnt know it was Banksy, but I didnt believe his story for a second.

  31. Ben Says:

    If that’s the case then I will have to give it to Banksy. That would be one great experiment in brand development. He might just have something to teach the big wigs he so strongly opposes. I almost feel like the whole propaganda machine behind this group of artists is playing on all of our discerning weaknesses. That would have to include Daniel Salin, Roger Gastman, Shepard Fairey, and most of all Banksy. These guys are firm believers that any press is good press.

  32. duG Says:

    I have been following this thread for 2 months now and while I am a little late to the party, I still want to add my 2cents. As an avid collector of local artists and someone who holds LA’s low-brow and street art scenes in the highest regard, I must say that like it or not there is a place for MBW’s art in this world. If there was no demand for it, nobody would have come to the show. The Warhol comparison is obvious but it is not fair. Andy came from Madison Avenue and showed the world that even if you have the ability to draw shoes and cats, you still need to explore the best medium for your message. Regardless of his talents, his identity, his novice/established/mysterious/obvious/rumored place in this world, the art represented by “MBW” is relevant.

    Warhol was never a street artist, but he always took images already in the mind of the viewer as his starting point. It is how he drew people in. His Elvis works arrived in LA long before Warhol showed up for his LA show and were left in the hands of Irving Bloom to cut and display as he saw fit. The message was in the image. MBW’s message is not the image as much as it is in the venue. To take on the LaBrea Corridor, Melrose, Hollywood, Los Feliz, etc and present a majority of his images to the public months before you would see them again in an old sound stage is a completely different tack. Many of the show goers took comfort not only in the familiarity of the iconic images, but in the fact that they saw it every day on the way to work, while walking their dog, or over coffee on the sidewalk somewhere in LA. Warhol said art is everywhere, now come look at it over a glass of wine in a gallery. MBW says a gallery is everywhere, now come look at at the side of this building while you wait out this red light.

    The message is powerful and clear. Life is Beautiful and art is everywhere. Any street artists who cannot see the validity of a financially backed attempt to further a movement that has drawn good press to your passions is being close minded. With each success story of a non-traditional artist made good, street art gains more credence and shrugs some of the negativity associated with words like “graffiti” and “tagging.” It raises the bar and makes new fans out of people who didn’t understand paste ups and stencils. Local talents like Shark Toof and 2Cent are reaping the benefits of what was accomplished this summer by “MBW” and vice versa. To think that MBW is any less legit than someone operating on a smaller scale is ignorant and hateful. Street art is survival of the fittest. The goal is to be indelible and if you’re hating on that, then you’re not a good street artist.

    Like Warhol, Damien Hirst executes some pieces and gives credit to his factory for others. Do you think Jeff Koons is a master of porcelain and anodized aluminum? What does that make Christo? If you did not like the show, that is fine with me. Art engenders opinions. I find it maddening that anyone would take the time to discredit a visionary and try to disassociate an idea with art, itself. If you’re looking for art studs in this town who create and execute everything they do, check out Luke Cheuh, Audrey Kawasaki, Patrick Hammerlein, or Chet Zar, but please do not try to redefine the all encompassing term “artist” because some people’s hands are less dirty than others. That just makes you a silly goose and a hater.

  33. Kenny Says:

    So after reading KAWS’ post I decided to put my unused journalism degree to work and did research on Banksy and MBW and the differences as well as similarities that put this whole “MBW is Banksy” story to rest. What I found out is that anyone that works for Banksy would not be posting about what he is doing. His inner circle is untouchable and anyone that might know anything does not talk about it. So all these people that say that they “know” Banksy and are posting his secrets are frauds. It shows in the Banksy persona. No one knows what he looks like and there are no identifying photographs of him to date. With that logic do you think he would be letting his lawyer ( who is probably bound by client confidentiality anyway) let his friends know his secrets an plans for the future? Figuring out Banksy that easily would be like putting together a thousand piece puzzle that consists of one color in an hour, its not that easy. MBW on the other hand is open, if you went to his show on a Sunday he always seemed to be there. You could walk up to him and talk to him and he even introduced me to the team of people that he said helped him and made everything possible. After looking up MBW’s website I found that he made or is making a movie about graffiti art and there is no question that Banksy would be featured. So maybe MBW does know Banksy and it is evident that he may derive some of his ideas for his pieces from Banksy but thats understandable. So saying that Banksy is MBW or Banksy is behind him are far fetched musings of begrudged people that are angry about someone elses overnight success.


  34. LL Brainwashed Says:

    Well he didn’t just use other people to make stuff and other peoples ideas he also used my artists name which i have been using since approx 1996. So i think we have some sorting out to do!!!

    MBW we can always have a live fight sell tickets call it ART and the winner takes the name?



    Banksy knows of me

  35. KAWS Says:

    LYeef is bhhutiful.. I dodis fhhore the peeepl, for CALIforrrnya… I fall of billbord and brake my mouth last night. but LIEEEEEEEF is beeeeeeeeutifUL! YOUSEE dis? The books.. The pile of books issaysing that I am like a computer on the top with life.. I dodis for CALIforrrrnya.. They wouldnt give me my own show. so I buy ship and make my own thing here.. Yahhh..

  36. TWIST Says:

    I buy socks. then i buy box. i put socks in box. and on top of socks i pt computer. it is like this is what life is now. computer has taken over socks. and life is BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEutiful. I took a shyyt in my pants last night. i didnt have pants to put on. so i just walk out with shyyt in my pants because life is BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEuitfl.. I fall off a building. and building does not help me up. so i say building why you just stand there? why you no help me? and building tell me. Because life is BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEutiful.

  37. Banksy Says:

    Give me your money.

  38. Jake S. Says:

    Such long, unruly comments filled with self-diminished wit, all just to say “I don’t get it and I’m pissed off at his success.” You know the old saying, “opinions are like assholes…”

  39. Sarah Lynn Says:

    what an utter rip off of rene gagnon’s campbell graffiti soup image. this guy is a tool nothing more to say. jump on that bandwagon boy.

  40. basemph Says:

    THis toy of a artist took out a important rest in piece for my girl Meghan so he could side bust on keith harring. You fuked up buddy. I’m making it a point to track you down and beat your brains in you fat fuk. Murder 616 on that ass.

  41. Bez Reyhan Says:

    All you haters…. Stop hating. The Guy is making his art and if people like it then they do. What is it too you? Come up with some really creative shit then start talking.

  42. Cornbread Says:

    Oh man, I can’t stop laughing. The question is: when the hoax is revealed, will people start ringing their lawyers? Gullibility and the law: two wonderful American institutions!

  43. Robert Oleson Says:

    Super Touch just recently wrote an article about shepards borrowing if art.

  44. PoisonIvyLeagueHater Says:

    I got a friend who just graduated with a Masters from Yale Art where he learned not to paint and hire someone else to do it instead. He actually told me if you spend more than 15 minutes on a painting, you’re overthinking it.

    No reason to post this, just stumbled upon it.

  45. Flick Yoli Says:

    More like “money is beautiful.”

  46. guess what Says:

    there is a new artist on the scene in Los Angeles, Watch out brainwash here comes DJSON

  47. Sosauce Blog : The Saucy Side of Travel. Says:

    [...] pizza or just sitting out front watching the city go by. It was also used as a canvas for one of “this generation’s most illusive and notable street artists” (I think they meant elusive). You must stop by to check out the tagging Mr. Brainwash did on its [...]

  48. Margaret Says:

    This article is hilarious after seeing Exit Through the Gift Shop.

  49. A Pop Pantheon of Broken Record Heroes | Green Stuff Now Says:

    [...] on the streets as a graffiti artist, and mixes up pop culture commentary. Mr. Brainwash, real name Thierry Guetta, started as a French documentary filmmaker, but now fills galleries around the [...]

  50. JimBo Says:

    I have just got back from watching Exit Through the Gift Shop.
    Going into this Banksy film did not know what to expect, except that it is unlikely to be just a film… to me it seemed that this would not be enough for Banksy… I expected something all the cleverer. And I was not disappointed, I was blown away by the scale of it.
    I love street art and pay attention to it, although I was not familiar with Thierry Guetta or his work as MBW. And so from the moment he was first introduced I doubted him – he seemed too much a caricature of himself, but I went with it. I think it clicked when Banksy told him to put on a show. With what seemed like a few months he managed to accumulate masses of art and organise a derelict building into one of the biggest shows of the year. This takes organisation and resources, resources that I doubt very much he had, but something Banksy has proved himself to have time after time. The best example of this is the Cans Festival he put on in May 2008 where he secretly flew in the world’s elite graffiti artists (first class flight allegedly) and converted an underground street below Waterloo Train Station into an massive street art exposition. MTBs expo was in June 2008, yet apparently he still found time to accept that flight to England to add some of his own work to the underground walls. (google MBW and Cans Festival).
    The idea that Banksy had created a character to pull off a stunt like this seems to be the logical answer, it firmly puts two fingers up at the devouring of street art by rich collectors, and it makes for a really clever film, making it possibly Banksy’s greatest work of art.
    On reflection of the film, three things stuck in my mind…. firstly the name – ‘Mr Brainwash’ – was that the intention from the beginning, brainwash the art dealers into believing in another Street Artist at the most elite level, so much so that $1m of work can be sold in a matter of weeks after the ‘Life is Beautiful’ expo opened? If so – it worked!
    Secondly, even when they could not decide what art to go up on the walls in the life is beautiful exposition, they still managed to get one up that read PUNK was trying to find the (ED) sure it was there somewhere.
    Thirdly and most convincingly, the film opened with three old television commercials looped together playing closer and closer until all you heard was “Buy This Nonsense” over and over again. Incidentally this was before the actual BBFC signed certificate of the move and so I am not sure if this would have been seen when the film was screened at the Sundance Festival. In any case it seems to me to give a good premise for Banksy’s greatest stunt!

  51. Just1guy Says:

    I worked security for MBW’s “Icons”. I can only say that whether or not you credit him for it, he is making a statement… People are eager to see what he displays at his shows. He soaks up every minute of the appreciation and it is well deserved. Let’s be honest… how many art shows open with that kind of frenzy??? His handmade splashes were claimed in seconds, by lay people and budding artists alike. Whether or not you like what he does, he is relevant and will be for many more years.

  52. Life is beautiful « faith in the invisible_ Says:

    [...] to a biopic of film maker (or essentially an eccentric French shopkeeper with a video camera) Thierry Guetta, but for me, nothing about the film could have been better. Artwork inside the foyer of the Lambeth [...]

  53. Photographicon Says:

    @JimBo: I saw Exit Through the Gift Shop last night at a cinema space in that graffiti underground street below London’s Waterloo Station… my thoughts exactly… the film seems to be the street art equivalent of Spinal Tap, and MBW the tribute to Nigel Tufnel… not quite as seminal, but still very enjoyable =)

  54. hazel smith Says:

    all art is recycled in my opinion
    we’ve all bought into it
    keep recycling…

  55. Hiiiiiiiiii Says:

    The company I work at did the editing for exit through the gift shop. All been very secretive! Just went to see a private viewing of it, thought it was very well done. Don’t buy into the conspiricy theories

  56. Biggie, by Mr. Brainwash Says:

    [...] to be a similar artist to famous mystery man Banksy, in his style and the way he makes his art. HERE is some additional info on the guy (that people know [...]

  57. Neu Black » Blog Archive » New Featured Artist: Mr. Brainwash Says:

    [...] sure to check out the new Featured Artist Mr. Brainwash for tons of pics and an interview with the man himself. We attended his debut show “Life is [...]

  58. OPINION | Mr. Brainwash: Ce n’est pas un Banksy « The Art Machine Says:

    [...] can see a review of MBW’s first show on Neu Black: One of the commenters goes on at [...]

  59. Banksy Banks on Mystery (and fails?) « The Art Machine Says:

    [...] following the show, a Nue Black review attracted a long string of comments that are still [...]

  60. James Says:

    Mr. Brainwash is a bunch of tired concepts redone. He doesn’t even make his own art, rather, he walks into his workshop, tells the employees what he wants, and they execute it. Nothing original here, and to call it “following a tradition” is really putting a spin on a man who’s just a hyped-up biter. He hasn’t been doing this for more than a short time and as a result he hasn’t ever found his own style. Commercialized crap that’s borderline art hoax. I laugh at any collector willing to throw down thousands of dollars for this marketing machine’s projects. You’ve all been brainwashed and are just now hopping on the street art bandwagon.

  61. Schlock of the New | Conducive Chronicle Says:

    [...] a revolving door of characters in this droll indie documentary, beginning with Thierry Guetta, its gnomishly oddball subject. French-born but in the U.S. since the 1980s, the stubby, [...]

  62. Roger Gastman- Neu Black Exclusive Interview | Neu Black Says:

    [...] the adventures of Banksy and Mr. Brainwash (Thierry Guetta) are chronicled and lead up to the epic “Life is Beautiful” show MBW held in Los Angeles in 2008. At that point, Roger is introduced in the film as the man brought in to save the show.  His [...]

  63. Andrew Says:

    Watch out, theory!

  64. christophla Says:

    Thierry Guetta IS Banksy :p (the elephant in the room)

  65. Javi Says:

    Don’t be too angry with Juan. We got a lot of interesting information and testimonies thanks to him.

  66. Zorka Says:

    What a great show! Really had a lot of fun. Thanks Mr. Brainwash you made my day!

  67. Mr. E Says:

    Agree with Javi, thanks to Juan for kicking off this huge debate. Come on people, don’t you feel a little silly after the “Exit through the gift shop” mockumentary? I love Kenny’s comment “After looking up MBW’s website I found that he made or is making a movie about graffiti art and there is no question that Banksy would be featured.” Well, in hindsight, total BS eh?
    Also, came across this post as I am researching information for the Wikipedia article on the subject, man this is just the biggest hoax going. Okay, so people have met Mr. BW, he’s a nice guy, he engages with people, but he’s a goddamm PHONY! Come on, slathering on that heavy French accent after 25 years in LA, he must have a good speech coach or watch endless re-runs of Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouzeau.
    Who can give me/obtain any biographical information on this guy Thierry Guetta? All that you find on the net is the same stuff rolled out over and over again.
    Oh, and totally agree with whoever points out that all this stuff requires large amounts of money and logistical skills, plus a dedicated team. Hang on, I just happen to have a few hundred thousand lying around, I think I’ll have a pop at being a cynical post-pop nouveau modern street artist and just rake in the cash!!
    This whole thing smacks of subterfuge, hype, careful planning and … genius :-)
    As for the art… fuck art, let’s fuck (or dance if you are PC).

  68. sam heuston knickers Says:

    I’d like Terri to win :) :)

  69. Lilly Escanlar Says:

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  70. kacperp Says:

    i like that movie.

    i like that kate moss/monroe made by banksy is exactly the same thing as madonna/monroe made by terry. is kinda cool. and that for hall movie banksy is giving is those small clues, but in last 2 minutes he’s showing two identical graphics, that we know that one was made by him and second was on madonna greatest hits album.

    mbw is fictional for sure, but i was thinking if it’s possible that terry does not know that, could it happened that banksy make him think that he’s real deal.

    because when you’re a writer (filmmaker in our times) is much more fun to make stories in real life, to create characters from normal people, not only writing it down but changing peoples life etc.

    i am sleepy and my english is bad, so that’s all i got to say at this moment.


  71. Nathan Says:

    actually like the article that you have written actually.

  72. Seine Says:

    Banksy fucked the Juppy-Artist-Szene and get rich with it! Great Job Banks!!!

  73. Banksy’s Academy Award Run | Neu Black Says:

    [...] the Mr. Brainwash moniker. It may be difficult to imagine producing masses of work displayed at the “Life is Beautiful” show, creating the documentary, and staging Thierry Guetta as a facade. But in our humble opinion [...]

  74. Jpo Says:

    Most of you guys are idiots. Watch the documentary “Exit Through The Gift Shop.” It talks all about this and the documentary was made by Banksy himself.

  75. Ryan Hebert Says:

    My friends and I thought we would do our own little performance art piece at Mr. Brainwash’s Icon Remix Exhibit. All was good and well until we got kicked out. Warning: Hot pink spandex and a fake penis ahead…Oh lala!

  76. Kristofer Trexel Says:

    Superb blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get comments from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Bless you!

  77. BUNNYCIDE Says:

    FOOX YOU! This artist is rubbish .You want to see philosophical thought transcending street art. Please see FOLLOW. htpp:// there is more there than in the entire brain of brainwash. BUNNYCIDE

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  79. Bex Says:

    Show me one piece of original artwork from this guy! there isn’t any! he did his first exhibition by flicking the “the little book of art” and merging images from other famous original artists! (this is not an overstatement)

    He is the to art what primark is to fashion! mass produced crap, that takes somethingthat was original years ago and sends it to the masses with less love, craft and quality…. the only difference is he charges a fortune!

    He is a disgrace to artists that have leart their craft processed ideas and used their talent to get imporant messages across!

    he is good at what he does…but that is not street art! i feel sorry for him, he’s not right in the head! bless…

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  81. Roy Says:

    Awesome info/opinions. Great movie, great hoax.

  82. Sara Says:

    MBW ripped off ideas from Rene Gagnon, Rene is doing a show I MBW’s backyard. This should be interesting.
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