Whether or not you like modern art, it’s easy to find fault in the pretentious, self-congratulatory attitude of art collectors shelling out exorbitant sums for newly anointed masterworks. In other words, pompous modern-art types are ripe for mockery on a spoof show with surreal tendencies. As with blues music, children’s television, and Hollywood before modern art, Eagleheart takes on a slice of American culture, and deftly whips in comical violence to show how brutal vapidity of chasing cutting-edge trends.
My knowledge of modern visual art is confined to some museum visits and a few documentaries—chiefly Exit Through The Gift Shop and My Kid Could Paint That—which craft dramatic arcs into their settings instead of being informative introductions to the scene. “Exit Wound The Gift Shop” isn’t the same kind of indictment of codifying street art into a place in the art hierarchy, or a mysterious authenticity scandal—it’s just mocking the boom-bust trendsetting style that’s generally accepted to be the model of the modern-art world.
The episode has more in common with something like Art School Confidential than the Bansky documentary referenced in its title. One minute, star painter Gleeko is selling his latest Jackson Pollock rip-off for 10 grand, and the next, Monsanto kills some thieves in the gallery, splatters blood and stomach contents on a wall, and becomes a rising star. It has nothing to do with the quality of the work, since they’re both shoddy and accidental artists—the audience simply demands the new, the up-and-coming, the best art of the moment.
And Eagleheart mocks that attitude with proper accuracy. One line even sums up exactly what the show thinks of the silly rat race to always be in on the current trend: the art critic who declares “Chris Monsanto is the artist of our time.” After his brief brush with fame in the art world, Monsanto can’t just go about with normal marshal business, so he positions his victims close to a wall or canvas, aiming to exploit the art he doesn’t understand for personal gain.
Chris Elliott pulls double duty as Monsanto in nearly every episode. He’s a dominating, testosterone-driven marshal, but with each surreal genre twist, he morphs into something more. This time, he becomes an egomaniac art star, content to just sit at his desk and direct Brett on creating the blood splatter on a Chairman Mao while a shirtless man stands still and holds a lamp. That tableau, of Monsanto at the desk and Brett—dressed in his version of hip clothing—gnawing at some food while the manservant holds up the lamp, is how you can tell Monsato is at the top of the art world.
But Gleeko is desperate to get back to the cutting edge of the art world, so he apes Monsanto’s style, killing four innocent people and creating his own blood-spatter art. But in the final confrontation, Monsanto gets the upper hand. He lets Gleeko shoot him, but hides a stencil behind his back, so that the splatter on the wall becomes an advertisement for a pizza parlor. Commercialization is even worse than irrelevancy, and Gleeko can do nothing but bemoan the demise of his “façade of integrity” while racking up dollar signs over his eyes until they’re gouged out.
With Monsanto seemingly abandoning his career and Gleeko soon to be old news, Eagleheart takes its now logical next step as the art dealer feeds Brett pizza from his favorite chain, assuming Brett’s insane actions are some kind of genius performance art, and falling in love. The art scene chews up those who enter, spits them out, and moves on to the next rising star.
- Another hilarious Susie moment: She works with a charity that gives fat suits to starving people to improve their self-esteem.
- Having the dollar signs in the eyes actually attach themselves in a dangerous way is the typical surreal twist that Eagleheart loves to portray. The moment Doc Shades gets them right after removing them from Chris is hilarious.
- “Let’s put the ‘goo’ back in ‘Guggenheim.’”