Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Supply & Demand: Shepard Fairey At The ICA Boston

Guns & Roses, Shepard Fairey, 2007.

Fairey, who is enjoying his first museum retrospective at the ICA Boston, brings together elements of the UK street artist Banksy, the factory-and self-obsessed Mark Kostabi, Russian Constructivism and propaganda to great effect.

1 comment:


From the comments section on :

The difference between Shepard Fairey when compared to Warhol and Lichtenstein is that those two artists worked from images that were already widely known by the public. People knew what Warhol was commenting on when he used the Monroe photograph-- a visual dialogue was established between the old image, the new image, and the viewer. That is the basis of fair use today.

Fairey instead takes from photographs and artworks that are not widely known-- such as the photograph by Mannie Garcia or the poster by Rene Mederos -- and thus fails to make a connection with viewers as far as fair use is concerned. The dialogue is crucial if the comment or parody is to be considered fair use. Unfortunately, it appears you have to buy the new edition of Supply and Demand for $59.95 in order to make those connections. That is not how fair use works.

The irony of this is that Shepard Fairey has sent cease and desist letters to artists who have made visual comments on or parody of his images-- some of which were considered "iconic". A lot of people have been pointing out how Baxter Orr made a parody of Fairey's widely known Obey Giant poster. Orr added a SARs mask to it and called it Protect. He worked within fair use because the base image, Fairey's poster, was widely known in the United States. Thus, there was dialogue going on between the two images.

Orr’s use was a perfect example of how fair use works. Orr successfully commented on Fairey's poster while establishing parody as well. I don't know if Fairey's cease and desist letter scared Orr off from distributing or exhibiting Protect or not. Under fair use if an image-- as in the photograph or artwork itself -- is famous it is pretty much fair game for fair use. So in that situation Fairey was being a major hypocrite in my opinion. In other words, Fairey could probably learn from Orr when it comes to fair use.
by VirtueOnly February 06, 5:06 AM