By transforming the status of wheat-pasting and poster art from the low-brow counter-cultural realm of punk and state to the highest levels of national attention and esteem, Shepherd Fairey has established himself as the world’s most famous proponent of street art. His 2008 poster of Barack Obama, entitled ‘Hope’, is now talked of alongside the iconic images of Che Guevara and Mao Tse-Tung in terms of greatest impact derived from a single piece of art. Yet Fairey was making waves for a long time before this. His OBEY movement, which started off in college as a “few weeks of mischief”, dispersed to cities all over the U.S.A., as Fairey sought to use his art as propaganda, imploring people to think and question the mechanisms of control embedded in their daily lives.
Whilst Fairey’s work have become a mainstay in mainstream, institutionalised circles, his commitment to the public sphere has only intensified. At the heart of this is his commitment to interrogating and understanding the relationship we as individual citizens have to the city and public life, to find ways of intensifying and repairing this relationship.
Fairey has shown at some of the world’s most established art museums including The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.