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AP goes after Fairey

Post #1290 • February 5, 2009, 1:25 PM • 18 Comments

Apparently while his opening was taking place last night at the ICA, the Associated Press put out a story that it was seeking compensation for Shepard Fairey's use of a photo by AP photographer Manny Garcia in Fairey's subsequently ubiquitious images of President Obama. (via)

"We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here," says Fairey's attorney, Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University and a lecturer at the Stanford Law School. "It wouldn't be appropriate to comment beyond that at this time because we are in discussions about this with the AP."

My first impressions of the show were of a handsome, solid talent for design with astonishingly oversold branding of the designer as an artist, and the artist as a rebel. A curator, in the midst of an opening-night gallery talk with Fairey in attendance, explicated piece after piece to an attentive crowd. The works hardly hide their meaning; I remarked later to Supergirl that it was like hearing the Cliff Notes to Goodnight Moon.

More to come.




February 5, 2009, 1:50 PM

Come on, Franklin... you missed the opportunity to make a "Fairey Use" joke, or maybe an "AP Hopes for Change" gag... I suppose you were leaving those for Opie to pick up, though.



February 5, 2009, 1:53 PM

I already know I'm not going to out-pun you and Opie. Get to it, gentlemen.



February 5, 2009, 4:10 PM

astonishingly oversold branding of the designer as an artist, and the artist as a rebel

This is anything but astonishing, or even mildly surprising. It is, of course, BS, but that's the system's bread and butter, so nothing new or unusual there. Besides, given something this topical, trendy and PC, it's not only predictable but inevitable.




February 5, 2009, 6:41 PM

Too easy, MC. Besides, yours are already as good as they would get.



February 5, 2009, 10:59 PM

True'nuff, OP. I was going to add that Mr. Fairey is lucky to have Mr. Falzone 'shepard' him through this, but, well, clearly, that's pretty lame.

But, seriously, I think if AP is successful, Obama should go after them for modelling fees...



February 6, 2009, 8:49 AM

But eageageag, the effort this writer expended to expose Fairey's plagiarism - which is called "appropriation" these days and apprenlty fully accepted and encouraged - is worthy of a major US Senate corruption investigation. It is using a hammer to kill a flea.

And the hammer misses the mark. The art world doesn't give a damn about an artist's nefarious doings. If anything, they enhance his rep. Change the spin ever so slightly and it could be a laudatory ARTFORUM article, and this is how it will be taken by the looneybins of the art world.



February 6, 2009, 9:10 AM

I am glad they wrote and researched the article anyway, for the sake of posterity. I haven't read ARTFORUM in over a decade so I will take your word.



February 6, 2009, 9:20 AM

I have no particular problem with Mr. Fairey, at least no greater problem than I have with any other self-promoting asshole. If I'm going to be upset here, it's with the ICA, or any comparable entity, that puts opportunistic expediency ahead of rather more respectable considerations, such as sound artistic judgment (I know; don't laugh). It's called pandering, among other things, but by now (as OP says) this is standard operating procedure.

As I said for Dumas, the problem with Fairey is not Fairey.



February 6, 2009, 10:51 AM

I haven't read it in several decades, eageageag, but from what I her I think my speculation is accurate..



February 6, 2009, 11:35 AM

I think the analysis of Fairey's "appropriations" is worthwhile because at least the creators of this imagery will be credited for their work, and perhaps be discovered by people who did not know their work existed.



February 6, 2009, 12:18 PM

I suppose...but the whole deal is so unsavory and phoney I wouldn't even want to be associated with it.

But I agree, basically.

Of course, who knows where those other folks stole their stuff from!



February 6, 2009, 1:06 PM

When I use headshots of artworld celebrities in my comics they are usually incporated into drawings that I do. I do not list the source of the original photographic image.


Chris Rywalt

February 6, 2009, 7:56 PM

The thing that I find peculiar about all this is, why does the fine art world give a crap about Fairey? He's an illustrator. The Obama poster was wonderful illustration, but it's not art. Considering how often a given artist is derided for being "merely" an illustrator or "merely" a decorator, I don't understand why someone who is so clearly and unabashedly an illustrator would be elevated to the rank of artist.

Maybe Groucho should've formulated his maxim in two ways, including "I wouldn't want as a member anyone who applied for entry."



February 6, 2009, 9:19 PM

There is some kind of problem like that going on here - what if this doesn't quite qualify as art, but graphic design? There are pieces that could go either way but also many that don't.



February 6, 2009, 9:20 PM

I learn from Barry Hoggard via Twitter that AP doesn't own the copyright to the image after all.



February 6, 2009, 9:26 PM

Chris, Fairey is a special case. He happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right product. A lot (if not all) of his disproportionate current celebrity clearly depends on who/what he became famous for illustrating and helping to promote, and the timing was crucial. Can you spell with-it? I can.

It's virtually certain that practically the entire art establishment was/is pro-Obama, and it's hardly surprising that it would take up and reward Fairey, however excessively, for his services and "correctness" via quasi-art. You'd better believe that if he'd done the same thing for McCain-Palin instead of Obama, he'd either have been ignored or he'd have become an object of derision and contempt--his work treated as cheap political propaganda at best. None of the right people would have been caught dead taking him seriously.

Besides, plenty of people whose work is less effective than his have long been far more successful than they deserve. What's one more overblown, overrated pseudo-artist, anyway?



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