Morgan Spurlock is best known for his documentary Super Size Me, but is also a prolific creator of other works, such as his reality TV show A Day in the Life. When I spoke to him on a recent Friday morning, Spurlock was wrapping up a busy week of press junkets for his new documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, about the famed San Diego fan fest, before he jumps into Tribeca Film Fest mode with a new project named Mansome. But movies and TV are not really what this phone call is about.
Spurlock is happy and excited and talking a mile a minute about art, as he is now adding “curator” to his list of professional interests. Opening Saturday, April 28, at Thinkspace gallery, the show “New Blood” reflects Spurlock's passion for art and collecting. Spurlock jumped at the chance to curate his own show when offered by Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner, and “New Blood” revolves around work from established art stars like Camille Rose Garcia, Shepard Fairey, the Date Farmers, Saber, Elizabeth McGrath and their hand-picked protégés that the artists themselves have chosen as ones to watch.
“In my career, I've always had people help me, and I very much believe in the whole 'each one teach one' philosophy,” explains Spurlock. “You, know holding the door for the other to go through. I wanted to embrace that with this show. These artists blossomed out of the lowbrow, surrealist, graffiti and fringe movements, which are now so mainstream. I find that to be fascinating. I think its important to look at who/what is next.”
Spurlock caught the art collecting bug after meeting surrealist lowbrow legend and activist Ron English, also part of “New Blood,” when English did the iconic, bloated Ronald McDonald poster for Supersize Me in 2004. English took Spurlock to the Lit Lounge — aka Fuse Gallery — in New York, where he bought his first piece, a small painting of a guy in a doorway wearing a party hat — Francesco Locastro's Surprise. The last piece he added to his growing collection? “I just got a hold of an Anthony Lister piece,” Spurlock adds passionately. “Its of a voluptuous woman in a Darth Vader mask — so totally everything that I'm about! I love it.”
Demonstrated by the subjects tackled in his documentaries, Spurlock doesn't shy away from controversy, especially where art is concerned. In 2011, he chose to profile L.A's Thierry Guetta — aka Mr. Brainwash — for his Day in the Life series for Hulu. While the episode was received as one of the best of the first season, we had to ask what Spurlock took away from meeting Banksy's accomplice in what some still believe to be the artist's most elaborate prank. “I think Mr Brainwash is a fantastic creation,” admits Spurlock. “I wish I could've seen the first show [“Art Show 2008”]. Banksy used him [Guetta] in Exit through the Gift Shop to show how the art world is changing. Thierry realizes he's been given a window of opportunity and he's created a Warhol-esque factory of people around him just to keep up with his ideas. I spent a couple of days with him and he really doesn't stop working. “
Do you think what you do is art? “Yes, I do, I do think what I do is art,” Spurlock demurs. “Other people might not.” He laughs. “But I definitely come at my filmmaking with artistic intent.”
Just like the artists featured in “New Blood,” each has an apprentice that they've inspired to follow in their footsteps. Who is a filmmaker that inspires Spurlock? “I met Tim Burton recently,” Morgan says without hesitation. “He's a director with such a distinct vision. There is nothing that looks and feels like his work. Now there's a true artist.”
Thinkspace's “New Blood” is on view April 28-May 19. 6009 Washington Blvd., Culver City. 310-558-3375, www.thinkspacegallery.com