Graphic Content | Shepard Fairey Is Not a CrookBy Steven Heller
Here is the original post, with pics
Steven Heller, a former art director at The New York Times, is a co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Arts and a blogger and author.
Even before Shepard Fairey’s Barack Obama “Hope” poster became the focus of legal and ethical scrutiny — for Fairey’s use of Mannie Garcia’s A.P. news photo as the basis of the now ubiquitous image — some design critics and practitioners had already questioned the street artist’s habit of “sampling” existing imagery. A scolding essay by Mark Vallen, entitled “Obey Plagiarist Fairey,” which was published online in 2007, accused Fairey, who created the “OBEY GIANT” project in 1989, of “expropriating and recontextualizing artworks of others.” The booty in this alleged thievery is primarily propaganda imagery from the 1920s (Russian Constructivism and Bolshevist posters) to the 1960s (Chinese Socialist Realism and counter-culture rock posters). However, Vallen’s harsh indictment seems not to have hurt Fairey’s reputation. If anything, the criticism enhances his subversive agenda, as it fosters debate about the line between influence and theft in art and design.