By Max Manasevit – Muze Staff Writer

To say the Shepard Fairey revolution has just begun is silly, he has been fighting and arguably winning for years. He has been a strong artistic force since at least 2008 when he designed Barack Obama’s iconic Hope poster. Fairey’s imposing cultural presence combined with his unique style has made him difficult to define. Some believe him to be the most important artistic figure of the new century, while others cringe at the thought of Fairey’s street graffiti being elevated to a level of high culture.

Fairey definitely has a foothold in the fine art world. He graduated from the Rhode Island Institute of Design and has had his work displayed in many prestigious galleries, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. His “high society” credentials are firmly in place.

What makes Fairey such a divisive figure is his embodiment of the street art ideal. His first major project was a stickering campaign based on a Andre The Giant stencil. Fairey freely admits that his art is influenced by skateboard culture and punk rock. He is panned by some for his art being overly political and mere propaganda. Ironically while some slam Fairey for being too political, other critics disdain him for what they see as his corporatization of art. They contend that his only muse is the almighty dollar.

It remains to be seen if Fairey and his street art movement will be able to gate crash the fine art party like the Impressionists did after being scorned for years by the art establishment, or like the Dadaists will Fairey and his movement be relegated to nothing more than an interesting footnote in art history books.

Tags: Shepard Fairey, Art, Street Art, Tagging, Graffiti, Culture

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