It is 2am right now in Venice, so I’ll leave the text describing all of this for another day, but here are my photos from the trip. A few of the photos are of work from Shepard Fairey, 2 are of a random stencil I found, a few are of the band Dark Dark Dark performing, and the rest are of The Swimming Cities of Serenissima.
What do you get when you put Swoon, Gaia, Dalek, Shepard Fairey, Imminent Disaster, Oliver Vernon, PISA73 and EVOL all in one show? I’m not sure, but it sounds like a recipe for awesome. And that’s just what Irvine Contemporary are doing in DC next month. And remember, Swoon is involved, so it’s not going to be your plain old group show. The show, called Street/Studio, is going to have a gallery component and an outdoor bit as well where the artists cover the alleyways near Irvine Contemporary. Can’t wait to see photos from this show. The only artists I’m doubtful about are Oliver Vernon and PISA73, but hopefully they make it work.
And don’t miss the panel discussion at American University on June 19th with the artists and the curator of Shepard Fairey’s show at the Boston ICA. Hopefully there will be video for those of us who can’t be there.
UPDATE: I was misinformed, the Bandit image below is by Restitution Press, and the skull image is by Euthanasia.
Looks like it’s time to add Restitution Press to the list of artists that Shepard Fairey may have stolen imagery from without giving credit. Restitution Press has been wheatpasting in LA and other cities for years, and now it looks like two of their images haveone of their images has been stolen and combined with an image by Euthanasia for use in a tshirt by OBEY Clothing.
Essentially, here’s what happened:
Those first two images are by Restitution Press. The first image is by Restitution Press, the second is by Euthanasia, and the last one is a close up of a tshirt by OBEY Clothing. They sure look pretty similar.
Here’s the full image of the shirt:
This looks to be one of OBEY’s classic “re-appropriations” where they have taken some images that they like, changed them slightly, and the stuck some OBEY logos around.
And it would be pretty hard for Shepard Fairey to play dumb about these images. He knows they exist. Last year he wrote to the head of Restitution Press complimenting him on their work.
Two really enjoyable street art videos hit the blogosphere today.
The first is from Pure Evil. He’s been in Brazil for a show, and it looks like he’s having a great time checking out the street art there. Some really cool work by extremely talented artists, most of whom I’ve never heard of.
C00l Pure Evil story. The other day, my friend asked me about buying some art for her room. She’s into stuff like Rothko, but I thought I’d try to get her into street art. I sent her an email with links to about 15 street artists to try to get a feel for her taste. I figured she’d end up loving stuff by Remi/Rough or Anthony Lister for their more traditional styles. I threw Pure Evil onto the list because I have a piece by him that I really like, but I didn’t expect her to like it at all. It’s a stencil and it just didn’t seem like her taste. Turns out, Pure Evil was her favorite artist that I linked to. Now, she and I are going to stop by Pure Evil’s gallery to check out his work in person. So that’s my tangent for the day.
The other video is of Shepard Fairey on CBS. It’s a pretty good interview, though I think I caught an error or two when they talk about his original Andre the Giant campaign. Fairey mentions his problems with the AP and claims that his work falls under free speech, so he is not guilty. Can’t wait to hear how that argument plays out in court. I’d love it if he gets off not guilty with that defense.
It seems like Shepard Fairey is everywhere lately, so I thought I’d post a summary of all that’s been going on and the relevant links.
To start, Shepard Fairey was arrested on Friday as he entering a party for his show which opened last week at The ICA Boston. Warrents for his arrested dated as far back as 2000. Has Posterboy started a trend of police arresting street artists at their own shows? Maybe it’s time to go back to secret identities. The irony of the whole situation is that just hours previous to his arrest, Shepard Fairey was unveiling a mural outside of Boston’s city hall and shaking the mayor’s hand. Odd that the cops didn’t show up to that event… Though Shepard Fairey is has questioned the “motivation and timing” of his arrest, I’d say with all that Fairey knows about advertising, it’s just as likely he called up the police himself and left an anonymous tip of his whereabouts. After all, this news even hit The Guardian here in London. Sounds like great publicity to me. Oh, and apparently he’s pled “not guilty!” I guess he can always claim that his poster crews did the pasting, which is probably the case for most of the work he’s in trouble for.
The Associated Press is complaining about copyright infringement because Fairey used a photograph of theirs as the basis for his “Hope” poster (be aware, the article linked to is actually written by the AP).
Fairey is preempting a lawsuit from the AP by instead suing them himself and asking a judge to just admit that his Obama posters are transformative and “fair use.” (some interesting and well articulated thoughts on the reprecutions of these two stories at Just Seeds)
And this leads us to the whole “is Fairey a legit artist or just a thieving sell-out” debate. I wrote about this last week in a post called “Is Shepard Fairey a Plagiarizing Half-Wit?” and asked readers to respond with their own opinions. Well I got plenty of responses both on the blog and on Twitter. I’d encourage you to read the comment thread, but here are a few highlights:
* “The bigger you get the more people want to take you out. It is what it is….who’s going to be remembered? Shepard or the critic?” – Astrogirl
* “this idea that he is subverting consumerism with the OBEY series somewhat falls on its face when the images end up creating an OBEY brand or being sold as bags and T-shirts purely because they feature the logo. If it ever was a subversive act, the OBEY stuff has now clearly become a brand displayed (and of course marketed) for its own sake.” – Spoons
* “I consider Fairey’s work to be along the lines of early Hip Hop producers. ‘Sampling is not a crime’.” – Facet
UPDATE – 11:48pm February 4th: The Huffington Post has an article which says the AP is accusing Shepard Fairey of stealing one of their photographs for his Obama posters. Shepard Fairey admits he used their image and is claiming fair use. Even though I may wish Shepard Fairey would properly credit sources, I’m also a big fan of fair use. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Vallen makes a strong case that Fairey appropriates, without attribution, the images and designs of other artists. He posts multiple examples, including art from the Czechoslvakian Prague Spring, art from the Industrial Workers of the World, Cuban poster art of the 60s and this example (left) directly copying the art nouveau drawing of Koloman Moser (1868-1918) (right).
Fairey seems at ease with his borrowing. In the 450-page catalog for the ICA show, he responds: “This guy Mark Vallen found every reference in every poster and every t-shirt that I’ve ever used. Out of hundreds of images, there’s a dozen or so that were based on things from historical posters. First of all, I’m always assuming that these posters are known by people, so my referencing is not a big secret. These aren’t obscure images… Usually I’m using an image as an intentional reference.” But his art itself makes no mention of its sources or derivative nature, and, contrary to Fairley’s assertions, much of the art he copies (like Moser’s) is not famous enough to be well-known to most of his audience.
So I saw this article on Trendhunter, but their site is a bit disorganized, and I can’t even seem to find the correct photo gallery. So I went out looking for Obama street art pieces on my own. Here’s 16 of my favorite Obama pieces (in no particular order).
Shepard Fairey has FINALLY said a few words criticizing soon-to-be-president Obama.
I’m very disappointed by Obama’s appointment of Rick Warren to deliver his invocation during Obama’s inaugural address. Rick Warren is against gay marriage and reproductive rights, and he does not believe in evolution (maybe he offers himself as proof of lack of evolution). I understand that Obama is trying to appeal to conservatives and evangelicals, but this move is symbolically a slap in the face to many people. Warren is not a uniter, but a divider… he is intolerant in many of his views. I still think Obama is the best choice for president, but I can’t condone Warren’s involvement in Obama’s inauguration, no matter how insignificant it is.
Fairey goes on to say that some of the proceeds from his pro-Obama posters will now go towards initiatives working to reverse California’s Prop-8, which re-banned gay marriage in the state.
I’ve had a hard time with all of Fairey’s pro-Obama work (it seems a bit pro-establishment compared to the rest of his work), but I really respect Fairey for still being willing to criticize Obama.
If you’re in DC for the inauguration, check out Fairey’s Manifest Hope gallery, running from Jaunuary 17-19.