It’s hard to see at that the story in “Exit through the Gift Shop” will take us down a very interesting and even hilarious path by the end. It starts with a shop owner named Thierry who lives in Los Angeles and is a French immigrant. He is married and has children and obsesses over his cameras and obsessively video tapes everything he does. He follows this passion of videotaping into street art when he catches his first whim about his cousin doing it. Under the guise of “I’m making a documentary” he collects footage of street artist all over the world only to eventually catch the art bug. The wheels in his mind begin to turn and as he once did as a shop owner (charging people ridiculous amounts for perceived designer clothes based on how they are threaded) he takes that same enterprising spirit into his own art. He notes that one of the artists that he followed, Bugsy, has a packed out art show and plans to make his own art and do the same. He goes to the extreme of refinancing his home, hiring several different types of artist, and creating a pop culture throw up of a show in the style of Warhol. He is asked a question by an observer at the gallery and gives a shallow answer about his art because there is no passion or depth behind his choices. He is not being deep he just wants to make money. At one point he is seen pointing at a Mona Lisa with sunglasses saying something to the effect of “spray paint sun glasses on her charge $40,000”. He does exactly what he set out to do and that is make a whole lot of money.
Many of the artist around him including Bugsy are a bit stupefied by all of this. They feel that art should take years to develop and that Thierry skipped every step that gives an artist credibility and went straight for the bucks. He even asks several questions including is all of art just a farce. Thierry was very bold in his decision to penetrate the art world with no message, no depth, and no real desire to do anything but make money. There is also this dialogue coming from the street art community that there work exists so they can go against the establishment and that street art doesn’t belong in galleries. The whole concept of putting this type of art in galleries takes away the rebel and the voice from the medium.
“Perceived power or value often leads to real power or value” is at the heart of this story as Thierry’s work is perceived to be valuable although in the eyes of those who study this medium the most it is not valuable at all but junk. The film reinforces this notion by showing us that Thierry excited the entire art community in spite of what anyone thought about him or his art and made major sales that perhaps artist who have been doing this for years have yet to see (and may never see).
Many artist throughout history have pushed the envelope when it comes to art and the messages they put in their art. One such example is Frida Kahlo who included the problems in her world within her art in spite of her medium being more traditional. There is nothing new about art capturing the voice of the people.
Therefore, I believe that there is a place for street art in the high art/gallery world. High art has often been the voice of the people historically.

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