Shepard Fairey street art retrospective at Warhol Museum

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The Independent Culture

Street artist Shepard Fairey, whose now-iconic "Hope" poster for the Barack Obama presidential campaign catapulted him to notoriety, opens his retrospective, Supply and Demand, at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 18, 2009-January 31, 2010.

With more than 80 works, the exhibition traces the artist's career over 20 years, from the Obey Giant stencil to screen prints of political revolutionaries and rock stars to recent mixed-media works.

Organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the show features posters, prints, stencils, and illustrations by the LA-based graphic artist. Inspired by Warhol, Fairey's work often includes "appropriated" imagery and propaganda-style design, including his renowned stylized image of Obama, acquired by the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. His work is also in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian, and London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

The 38-year-old has been arrested 14 times for graffiti and sniping (putting up flyers/posters in public spaces without permission. Boston police arrested him earlier this year for "vandalism," when promoting his exhibition.

The "Hope" poster is also not without controversy. With reference to a source photo from an Associated Press photograph, Fairey cut out actor George Clooney from the shot and altered the image with graphic enhancements in shades of red, white, and blue.

But the AP accused Fairey of copyright infringement for the original photo by Mannie Garcia, demanding credit and compensation. Fairey in turn filed suit against the AP, claiming his work is protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. Sales are donated to charity.

Fairey defends his "appropriation" of the photograph, stating on his website that the "illustration transforms it aesthetically in its stylization and idealization." Also, he believes it's a political statement with the purpose to inspire, unlike the news photo.

Guerrilla tactics are found in Fairey's first work, a pop image of professional wrestler Andre the Giant, called "Obey Giant." He encourages people to download the image and post on street signs and buildings. The amusing nonsensical image is intended to stimulate curiosity. http://obeygiant.com/free

On October 17, Fairey speaks at the Andy Warhol Museum about his work's shift between the fine, commercial, and political art and the meaning of his tagline: "Manufacturing quality dissent since 1989." http://www.warhol.org/

 

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