Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Movie review... Yep.

"Exit through the Gift Shop" – a movie review and ramble.


It isn't often that I am compelled to write about a movie.

It isn't often a movie asks questions without answers.


"Exit through the gift shop" was not at all what I thought it would be.


I thought this was a documentary about graffiti art –
expected a gritty and cutting edge and provocative movie

and showing the hidden side of an art form – 
get all the haters to see it through the eyes of the artists and they will love it..

Maybe they would talk about how graffiti is as misunderstood

as the first chair cain that showed up on Picasso's canvas.


I didn't read the back cover very well- but I was not disappointed.


Side note:

Picasso is one of those artists we love to hate

but he had the background in classical art.

He could paint a portrait with the best of them.

He took that core knowledge and abstracted it.

In its day much of his technique was unappealing to critics.
He and his fellow artists pushed the edges of modern art

However he was not without his praise and fame. Obviously.

Much like many critics feel about graffiti.

Go watch this movie and come back.
Spoiler alert!

Gina's Movie Summary:

Guy who likes to video tape everything,

finds his way into the underground world of graffiti art

He films all the antics of these artists

as they pursue their art in the wee small hours of the night.


Unlike me, they work on art at night to avoid getting caught.


He spends years taping these artists

under the guise that he's making a documentary.

Making these tapes is his way into the hearts

and trust of the street art elite.


After many years - graffiti art hits the big time – 
gallery shows etc. People can't get enough.

Right place at the right time? Maybe.

Our tape guy is asked to make an actual movie with all this footage.

Tape guy just likes the camera in his hand – 
doesn't actually watch any of the tape he makes.

But he finally makes a movie… and it sucks.

So much for that idea.

Gives all his tape to his best graffiti buddy

(the maker of this movie – btw)


Next, our fearless tape maker decides to have an art show –

At the suggestion of his best graffiti buddy…

So he does.

Hires a staff to help him run the screen printers and computers.

He picks the photos and art directs.

Soup cans become spray cans with "Campbell's soup" on them. 
Warhol esk Madonna and other famous faces are printed poster size.


We are lead to believe he didn't do this either.

His hired help did it.


He lands a couple of endorsements

from his tagging elite friends –

who are just putting out a few words about their tape buddy – unknowing how big this will be.


and then – the art show opens and guess what –

tape guy makes millions.




It IS all about who you know.



Tape guy has no art background formal or not.

other than years spent watching the underground art movement.


Our tape guy has NO



and tears

wasted learning to draw or paint or sculpt.

NO hours in front of the computer

learning to manipulate images

in Photoshop.




He is a rule breaker.


He copies other artists most famous works –

mostly popular art we all know and love/hate.

manipulates and emulates them in a graffiti style.

Not really an original perspective either.


He hires a staff to help to make his vision a reality.

(not unusual for artists to do, but not ones without any experience)


He spent his time following and documenting a secret society –

And failing at what he did with it.

He didn't learn to tag,

or did he?

Were they all duped?

Is he just a cheap knockoff just doing what he saw and learning from the best all those years.

In around 6 months he manages to put together a multi-million dollar art show.
His show is all art made from stealing the ideas and art from the famous.


Fascinating – you have to see this movie!


Is this art? There is no easy answer.

And part of why I thought I am taking all this time to write my thoughts –

because I keep going back and forth.


My snobby art school side says:


He has no art background!


I am not saying you have to have formal training to be an artist.

But I do think he has to have done something…

Spent time making his own art.

Drawing, painting…

or making taped movies and watching others do it... (see I can contradict myself even in a thought…)




How would I feel if he did this to my art?

Am I supposed to be Flattered? Hardly…

Emulation maybe the highest form of flattery –

but when you work hard

and others reap the benefits of it without the hard work…  it sucks.

no one likes that.

I would not be flattered, I'd be crappy and angry and calling my lawyer.



It doesn't make it right if an artist has an MFA in painting,

and would choose to take my work to make it his own and sell it off.

In fact someone with that much art background should know better.

For me, 

There is a difference in my heart when I struggle to make the color right

or reshape the angle 

or struggle through the ugly stage to make things work 

and turn the ugly into something I love.

Somehow I feel like someone with a background in it- the time and struggle part,

would respect it more – 

and not outright steal…???

And yet I am sure the well educated – perfectly capable "artists" do steal art

and have as this topic continues to be a copyright crazy world.

I know how hard it is to be original

and I strive to make my work my own.

Even though, sometimes I do copy, if I want to learn more,

but then I don't sell it for thousands.


And the last voice - my modern art is not definable voice- says:

Pushing the edges is what it is all about, right?

Andy Warhol ripped off soup cans and called it art.

Few liked it when Picasso used actual texture in his art.

Impressionists – painted the light? What kind of subject is that?

What are all these squiggles?

But it is history that decides what is good art and what is not.

So many movements of art came from people pushing past the usual – 
pushing past the paint and adding something more – 
painting more than Madonna and Child as assigned by the church.

Without these pushes – we would all still be mixing our own paint with linseed oil.


And the mighty dollar.

Our Mr. tape maker making money.


He is rich and famous now.

But should he be?

Should or not, he is.


I guess in conclusion - 

progress is scary 

for we who toil in the paint 

hoping for something good to come of it. 

and art is subjective –

If Mr. Tape had an art  background, I wonder if he would do what he did. 

If he had ability, maybe he would still do it. 

And maybe I would value it more.

His drawing ability or lack of, hasn't hurt him.

We will never know – the what ifs. 

And even as I write this I go back and forth about it.


I know that I don't have to like it to call it art.


I do know that when I can see an original painting –

with beautiful piles of paint –

An artist making changes buried beneath –

colors changed and manipulated

lines drawn in the canvas

other mistakes made

and then covered over –

decisions changed and

entire faces painted over…


I have more respect for the artist.

When one has to work for it,

I value it more

and I feel like I can be a better artist

by making and learning from my mistakes.

I learn from those out there doing –

rather than those riding on the coat tails of others.

For me it is the process of making art that I love. 

And I can imagine the money part would be nice.


For whatever that is worth…it is interesting. 

And artish and pushes the edges.


No comments: