Mr. Brainwash (b. 1966)
Mr. Brainwash is the moniker of eccentric French filmmaker turned street artist, Thierry Guetta. After years filming his cousin Space Invader, Banksy and Shepard Fairey, he put down the camera and picked up a spray-can and quickly became one of the world’s most prolific street artists. A maverick of the art world, Mr. Brainwash has a trademark positive message and playful spirit that has taken the art world by storm. Born in 1966 in Garges-les-Gonesse, France, Guetta moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was 15 after his mother passed away and occupied himself as an amateur videographer as a way of preserving the memories of family and friends. He opened a vintage clothing store in Los Angeles and quickly learned the power of branding. On a visit to France, Guetta filmed his cousin, the street artist Space Invader and the experience changed his life. He was drawn to the immediacy, impermanence and the danger of street art, and as he watched Invader install video game mosaics in Paris, he became fascinated with the role of street art in modern culture. Guetta sought out and began filming Shepard Fairey and then convinced the illusive Banksy to film with the caveat that his identity would be shrouded from the public. After taking thousands of hours of video of these street artists, Guetta edited them into a film. After watching the film, Banksy coopted the footage, telling Guetta that maybe he should try his hand at street art instead. He never knew how literally Guetta would take him. Mr. Brainwash's first solo show, Life Is Beautiful, opened in the summer of 2008, in a former T.V. studio in Hollywood. The show garnered the cover of LA Weekly, one of Los Angeles' most circulated publications. Life Is Beautiful attracted thousands of people who lined the streets for blocks and Mr. Brainwash became a sensation. In 2009, Madonna paid Guetta to design the cover art for her Celebration album. Uniformly subversive in his style, Mr. Brainwash fuses historic pop imagery and contemporary cultural iconography to create his version of a pop–graffiti art first popularized by other street artists. Working primarily with layers of screenprint and stenciled images, his compositions are emblematic of a graffiti wall inundated with 20th century iconography. Blending the vibrant palette and imitation of pop artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, he playfully juxtaposes of the cultural idols of the past (Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe) with the icons of today (Kate Moss, Madonna) with a puckish wink.