Monday, April 27, 2009

ICA: Shepard Fairey's "Supply and Demand"

I caught this exhibit at the ICA Boston just before I left for Germany. It serves as a general overview of the now-infamous Shepard Fairey, whose work ranges from public murals to comedic stencils to book and album covers to political posters.

By creating a set of specific, easily recognizable images and repeating them throughout much of his work, Fairey merges artistic design with self-branding. He often limits himself to a red, black, and white palette, resulting in distinct and bold pieces.

The exhibition traces his earliest artistic endeavors of Andre the Giant imagery stamped around Providence while he was attending RISD and follows them through the years of celebrity portraits, anti-war canvases, and numerous public art campaigns, landing on a gorgeous large-scale mural he created just for the show.

I enjoy Fairey's work a lot. I know that there is a lot of controversy over his appropriation of photographs and what not, but I still think he has a lot of talent with design, stenciling, and layering. His technical ability cannot be denied, even if some portions of his pieces were brought in from other sources. Many artists appropriate from photographs or film stills, but it's the way they incorporate them into original works that matters.

I love the variations in tone and texture Fairey has developed in a lot of his larger pieces. They make quite an impact.

All in all, an interesting and diverse collection of works by an already-prolific artist. It's really cool to see a street artist receive such a high-profile exhibition, lending legitimacy to the art form.

Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand is up until August 16 at the ICA. Also keep an eye out for some public works he installed around the Boston area in honor of the exhibition, like the one above I spotted in Harvard, and the now-defunct mural at Tufts University.


Jaclyn said...

I think the images that he uses are brilliant, powerful, & show what a lot of society is focusing in on at the moment. However, I can't quite bring myself to say that I actually enjoy this work. I feel the color palette and his use of lines is far to strict for my taste, though I can appreciate the skill that it takes to do such a thing.

Alex said...

I can definitely understand his work not suiting someone's taste, but I'm glad you can still respect what he's doing. It's almost as if you'd studied art history or something!