Mr. Brainwash Creates Another Well-Meaning Yet Tacky 9/11 Tribute

Mr. Brainwash,#NYCISBEAUTIFUL, a 9/11 mural at Century 21 in Lower Manhattan. Photo: courtesy Mr. Brainwash.
Mr. Brainwash,#NYCISBEAUTIFUL, a 9/11 mural at Century 21 in Lower Manhattan. Photo: courtesy Mr. Brainwash.
Mr. Brainwash in front of the #NYCISBEAUTIFUL 9/11 mural at Century 21 in Lower Manhattan. Photo: courtesy Mr. Brainwash.

Mr. Brainwash in front of #NYCISBEAUTIFUL.
Photo: courtesy Mr. Brainwash.

Mr. Brainwash, perhaps the art world’s most inexplicably successful figure, has created a giant street art work in time for the 14th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The 65-foot by 225-foot mural, titled #NYCISBEAUTIFUL, is a stone’s throw from the World Trade Center, on the side of the Century 21 department store in lower Manhattan.

This is the second year Mr. Brainwash has graced the store with a commemorative mural to mark the anniversary of the 2001 attacks, and the work has a distinct corporate flavor. According to press materials, the project came to “organic fruition through his friendship” with the store’s co-owner, Isaac Gindi.

In a statement, Gindi noted how honored the department store was to collaborate with Mr. Brainwash again, noting that “his piece represents the vibrancy of New York city and the power of the downtown community.”

Mr. Brainwash,#NYCISBEAUTIFUL, a 9/11 mural at Century 21 in Lower Manhattan. Photo: courtesy Mr. Brainwash.

Mr. Brainwash, #NYCISBEAUTIFUL.
Photo: courtesy Mr. Brainwash.

Although the work still leans heavily on time-tested 9/11-themed images such as firefighters and the American flag (or firefighters raising the American flag, to be exact), Mr. Brainwash’s latest effort is almost abstract in the initial viewing. A dense layering of New York-related images provide a chaotic backdrop to the phrase “New York city is beautiful,” written in large hot pink block letters placed below the department store’s bright-red branding.

“This isn’t just about New York; when 9/11 happened the whole world was watching,” Mr. Brainwash explained in a statement. “We wanted to do something that is a representation of the city’s resilience and diverse beauty, of the strength of the community—that shows we won’t forget and remind us to give love on this day and every day.”

Mr. Brainwash,#NYCISBEAUTIFUL (detail), a 9/11 mural at Century 21 in Lower Manhattan. Photo: courtesy Mr. Brainwash.

Mr. Brainwash,#NYCISBEAUTIFUL (detail).
Photo: courtesy Mr. Brainwash.

It’s an admirable sentiment, but it’s harder to take seriously in connection with the artist. He came across as buffoonishly clueless in Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy‘s 2010 documentary tracking his unlikely rise to fame.

Five years later, artnet News is still not sure if the man is a joke or a hoax, but does it really matter? We’re guessing people will be sharing #NYCISBEAUTIFUL on Instagram regardless.

Related Stories:

Mr. Brainwash Transforms New York’s Edition Hotel in Three Hours

Pope Francis to Pay Respects to 9/11 Victims During US Visit

Court Okays World Trade Center Cross at 9/11 Museum

Marcy Borders, the ‘Dust Lady’ from the Iconic 9/11 Photo, Has Died of Cancer


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