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Mr. Brainwash reveals how Banksy helped create him

February 21, 2011 |  8:45 pm

As Banksy art begins popping up mysteriously around Los Angeles in the days leading up to the Academy Awards,  Mr. Brainwash -- a.k.a. French-born Angeleno Thierry Guetta --confirms that he is as much a creation of Banksy as he is an autonomous creature.

"Banksy captured me becoming an artist," Guetta told The Times over cigarettes and fries (of course). "In the end, I became his biggest work of art." (He doesn't allow whether he in fact may be Banksy, as some have suggested.)

Debates about modern art aren't the first thing one expects from the Oscars. But with the best-documentary nomination of "Exit Through the Gift Shop," British phenom Banksy's examination of the street-art scene and the derivative sensation that is Mr. Brainwash -- or is it the other way around? -- that's pretty much what we have.

Among the questions the film has raised: How much of "Gift Shop" is an elaborate joke staged by Mr. Brainwash? Or by Banksy? Or are they, perhaps, even the same person?

In a talk with The Times' Jason Felch -- Guetta's first extended interview since his movie became a hit at last year's Sundance Film Festival -- Guetta describes how Banksy pulled the strings on his now-infamous 2008 show, in which a host of work from Guetta's Mr. Brainwash that paid, er, strong homage to other artists quickly became a sensation.

"He gives me a brush and a can, and he took the camera," Guetta said, adding that Banksy even told him when to open the show. " 'Go make your own show and have people filming it.' "

Felch also finds that while Guetta -- who began dabbling in the art world by documenting the street-artist Space Invader before becoming a subject himself -- hardly seems credible in the film, his personal story checks out. "The details of Guetta's unlikely biography are broadly supported by a review of public records, which trace his life in Los Angeles from his arrival as a teenager in the early 1980s. They are also consistent with the accounts of friends, former business associates and employees over those years," Felch writes.

Guetta, who refused to comment on whether he'd seen Banksy recently in Los Angeles or whether the artist might come to the Oscars, does tell The Times that he and Banksy remain friends. Guetta says he harbors no hard feelings toward the artist despite Banksy having turned the camera on him in the movie.

But Guetta also says he deserves respect for the way he sacrificed himself for his art in the run-up to the 2008 show. "I put everything I had to make it happen," he said. "If this didn't happen, I was going to lose everything."

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: An alleged Bansky piece on Sunset Boulevard. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press


Is 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' true?

Banksy sightings around Los Angeles: Publicity stunt or is he here?

Comments () | Archives (12)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Yawnnn . mrlamewash

the photo caption reads "an alleged Banksy piece on Sunset Blvd." Nothing alleged about it. It IS Banksy. This billboard is featured on his website: http://www.banksy.co.uk/

Banksy is just a boring contrived persona and anyone who buys into it is an idiot.
Is he great because he drew an underground Crumb inspired mickey mouse on a bill board? Robert Crumb and other underground artists did it first and better. A lot of people are sheep and they buy into things without original thought or conception, which is why people are talking about this non original artist. Things that are original are rarely rewarded in our culture of mediocrity hence you have the re-hash banksy doing his re-hash stencils and people ooh and aww as if they are witness to something truly great because it makes their useless lives feel worth something. Can he draw anything original? Not really.
Great movie though! Truly truly great and cool. Loved the movie because it represents truth and truth is hard to find in our culture. Mr. Brainwash rocks !and shows the art world sheep for what they are.

yeah, that was a poorly written article... talk about zero flow.

Next time ask good quetsions.


I'll admit I was fooled for most of the documentary on 'Mr. Brainwash'. It wasn't until towards the end when I knew I'd been conned.

So the point is Banksy and Thierry both involved each other. We already know this.

this dudes an idiot. Banksy hates Mr. Brainwash, it says so at the end of exit through the gift shop.

Originality is only a word. There is nothing "new" about anything, because we are creatures who learn through experience. Everything we know, was created by someone else and selectively kept and sorted in our minds. There is nothing new under the sun.

Jah Man - You seem like a really miserable person, I can't imagine what it's like. You probably live in a little dingy hole pouring over your Crumb comic books, eating cakes. Get a life and stop living in the 1960's man.

Take a look at the NEW Banksy Doc here http://www.howtosellabanksy.com/


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