One of the paintings that Art Link International’s Howard Brassner and Barbara Womelsdorf brought to Naples International Art & Antique Show is Mickey and Goofy. It’s a painting by the controversial artist who goes by the pseudonym of Mr. Brainwash.
Mr. Brainwash’s biggest claim to fame is a starring role in the 2010 Oscar-nominated, pseudo-documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. Since the movie’s release, there has been considerable speculation that Mr. Brainwash (whose actual name is Thierry Guetta) and the film itself are an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Banksy, a British street artist and director of the documentary.
Early last year, the L.A. Times ran an investigation of Mr. Brainwash/Guetta that verified many of the biographical details presented in the movie. Still, suspicions run fairly rampant that he either doesn’t exist or is merely the latest prank perpetrated by Bansky, who has been quoted as saying, “Become good at cheating and you never need to become good at anything else.”
In an attempt to diffuse the controversy, Guetta has given sworn statements that the artwork is his own, but questions persist about his connections to Banksy and whether Banksy is in fact pulling the strings of Mr. Brainwash’s ascendant career. And now, photographer Glen E. Friedman has stirred a new ingredient into the bubbling cauldron of this delicious witch’s brew, a copyright infringement lawsuit that contends that Guetta used his iconic photo of Run DMC without permission or credit on exhibition invitations, artworks, merchandise and promotional materials.
BoingBoing.net’s Sean Bonner believes Guetta’s legal exposure is germane to the controversy. “It should put to rest the speculation that Mr. Brainwash is just a creation of Banksy’s. Should Friedman win the case, expect other artists and copyright holders to come out of the woodwork as basically every piece of artwork by Guetta is just a twist on an already well known image created, and uncredited, by someone else.”
Including Mickey and Goofy.
Paintings like Mr. Brainwash’s Mickey and Goofy are yet another reason for attending shows like Naples International. In few other places can collectors encounter acclaimed pieces like Monet’s Eglise de Varengeville, effet Matinel within 100 feet of a work as controversial as a Mickey and Goofy, all without fear that either is a forgery or fraud. “That’s the attraction of a show like Naples International,” observes Art Link’s Howard Brassner. “The artworks are all vetted. Before it is ever put on the wall, it is looked over by a panel of experts.”
For more information about Naples International Art & Antique Fair, please telephone 239-949-5411 or visit www.ifae.com.
The Naples International Pavilion is located at 4835 Immokalee Road in North Naples. It’s located at the intersection of Immokalee Road and Livingston Road and is just one-half mile west of the I-75 interchange.