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April 21 2014

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Blasblog: Shepard Fairey Opens At The ICA

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Shepard Fairey is an artist of efficiency. Most of his works, from the Andre the Giant stickers of last decade to the Obama Hope poster, are created in about 24 houses. Take that Obama poster. “Did it one night,” says Fairey. “I looked through some references on the Internet, found some that conveyed leadership and patriotism—and hope, obviously—and then converged blue and red in the middle, as a unification of the blue and red in America.” That was one year ago last month, and we all bore witness to the speed at which the image permeated to become the visual iconography of the entire campaign. (He did wait until he had the official OK from the then candidate’s camp. “I’ve been arrested a bunch of times for street art,” he explains. “I wouldn’t want to hurt the campaign.”) Fairey has been working in his own medium—which he classifies as a mix between graphic art, fine art, and commerce—for two decades now. With Fairey’s impressive body of work and his recent role in the cultural zeitgeist, it was clearly time for a show. Supply & Demand, a survey of Fairey’s work, opens today at the ICA Boston and is perhaps the biggest of its kind. “Shepard is the first street artist to have an exhibition of this caliber,” says co-curator Pedro H. Alonzo. “What he does is a totally different art form.” Citing the likes of Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol as predecessors, Alonzo adds that Fairey’s work crosses every boundary: the lines between street and gallery, and social satire and political inspiration. It’s actually this ambiguity that Fairey revels in—his roles as vandal, fine artist, graphic designer—and even fashion designer. “I’ve always thought T-shirts are a really great canvas,” says Fairey, who has a line of streetwear. (You can check it out at www.obeyclothing.com .) “My primary audience is everyone,” he says. “Maybe someone that doesn’t care about street art will see my show and realize there’s something. It’s all about starting a dialogue.”

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  1. jessiekthompson says:

    Did you hear this guy just got arrested at his opening of this show? I wonder if it was publicity stunt or stupid cops…

  2. Valerio says:

    Only one remark the woman on the pic/poster looks a lot like Angela Davis the woman who fought for the rights of Afro-Americans in the 70s. She wasn’t a member of the Black Panther movement but was a huge supporter of this organization. What has she to do with streetstyle or fashion, but maybe I misunderstood your article and it’s only that whatever form of art is it Haute Couture, fashion or sculptures, paintings etc you see them on the same level?