couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing the Shepard Fairey
exhibit at the ICA
in Boston...a fantastic experience. The ICA is housed in an absolutely beautiful building on the Boston waterfront. They have a great permanent collection, but the reason I was there was to see Fairey's exhibit.
His work is really something you have to see in person to truly appreciate. The amount of detail in his pattern and collage work is astounding, and the precision of his screen printing is incredible. Of course I had seen his more commercial work (the Obey Giant
stuff that is everywhere), but was really impressed by his other work. A couple of the pieces were massive...around 12 ft x 20 ft or larger...and were so full of smaller pattern and details that I could have spent all day looking at them and still not catch every detail. Custom patterns layered on top of newspaper clippings, even custom fake money that he printed. The common thread throughout all of his work is the iconic Obey logo of Andre the Giant
. His branding is so thorough that it reminded me of the Nazi Party's use of the swastika (not in ideology, of course...just in it's complete permeation of the culture that Fairey has created).
One thing that kind of baffles me, though, is the conflicting nature of Fairey's work and his varying business ventures. On the one hand, you have his work, which is politically charged and very anti-establishment and anti-commercialism. On the other hand, Fairey owns his own clothing line
(on which he plasters his anti-establishment artwork), and sells books, stickers, prints, and all kinds of trinkets on his website. It seems to me like this underground movement has become the very thing against which it preaches.
Then again, maybe it is an intentional thing that Fairey is doing to show the contrast of commercialism and his artwork?
I don't know!
Note: Unfortunately, the ICA does not allow photography (a rule that they pretty strictly enforce), so I had to pull some photos from various places on the web. If any of these are your images, I apologize and please feel free to add your credits in the comments below.