International. Contemporary. Art.
The internationally famous, Academy Award nominated filmmaker and street artist, Mr. Brainwash, surprised our team at Global Art Agency with a personal invitation to come over to New York City and to cover a story on Mr. Brainwash latest mural.
“After the Tokyo International Art Fair and the recent Amsterdam International Art Fair we have been approached by many organisations that are focussed on street art. I guess we have been very successful with promoting this concept in our art fairs, making it possible for street artists to sell their work at our events” said GAA Director Natal Vallve.
Mr. Brainwash and Century 21 PR team wrote to GAA with a personal invitation to come and see him and his team in action creating the #NYCisBeautiful mural, meeting him and to have an exclusive interview with him.
So excitedly we put our best guys on the case to fly to NYC! Arriving there and meeting him for the first time was interesting! With paint splattered on his jeans and bags beginning to form beneath his eyes, Thierry Guetta has hardly slept for over three days. Known to most as Mr. Brainwash — the 48-year-old, French-born street artist who served as the subject of Banksy’s 2010 film Exit Through the Gift Shop — Guetta has been busy putting the finishing touches on his latest project.
On Wednesday afternoon, after two weeks of frantic, insomnia-driven collage-work, he succeeded in completing a gargantuan 65-by-225-foot mural commemorating those affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Mounted on the wall of the Century 21 department store at 1972 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, just blocks away from where the twin towers once stood, the memorial is Guetta’s second attempt in two years to celebrate the resilience of post–9-11 New York through art.
“Last year, we were here during 9-11, and we had people approach us that had lost husbands; some people were coming and crying in our arms,” Guetta, who created the mural with the help of a small team of apprentices, tells us. “They said, ‘Thank you.’ We did something that people felt good about, so why stop that? We don’t want to stop.”
“It was clear that Thierry put in a lot of passion in his artwork and the thoughts behind it.” Said GAA Director Natal Vallve.
Though Guetta was raised in Paris and has spent the past 35 years living and working in Los Angeles, last summer he was visiting New York City and found himself repeatedly pushing his flight back, changing his ticket more than a dozen times. He felt he wanted to be a New Yorker and, after visiting the 9-11 Memorial & Museum on Greenwich Street, decided to pay homage to an event that still looms exceptionally large in the city’s collective identity.
“It’s not where you’re from, it’s how you feel,” explains Guetta, who now splits his time between New York and L.A. “I feel that it was something important. It was not just about New York City, it’s about the world. The world was touched, the world was aware.”
Last year, Guetta’s mural featured a giant American flag painted beside the words “We love New York.” The far right corner of the building depicted a crouched fireman spraying the silhouette of a dripping heart with his hose. At the time, the mural was criticized for being sloppily executed and too reliant upon cultural clichés.
#NYCisBeautiful was unveiled on Wednesday 9th September, first to the press, then to the public. From Thursday it was also possible for the public to write a message below the mural related to the 9/11 September tragedy, engaging with the audience and to let them be part of the memorial artwork.
“It was great to spend time with Thierry, we spend time chatting with him whilst he continued throughout the night on completing the mural. We had good conversations, and it was interesting to get to know him better and experiencing his heart and soul for art.” said Vera, project coordinator at Global Art Agency.
If you are in New York head to Century 21 on Cortlandt Street to check out the #NYCIsBeautiful mural by yourself, take a picture and tag #NYCIsBeautiful to share it with the world!