The first solo show of the artist's work, explores the breadth of Fairey's career. In addition to the now iconic Obama poster, the exhibition includes approximately 200 works, ranging from Fairey's renowned Obey Giant stencil to screen prints of political revolutionaries and rock stars, to recent mixed-media works and a major new commission for the ICA. In complement to the exhibition, Fairey will be creating public art works at sites around Boston.
Boston, MA - Shepard Fairey, the Los Angeles-based street artist behind the red, white, and blue Obama campaign image that swept the globe-is the subject of an exciting new exhibition organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. The 20-year retrospective, the first solo show of the artist's work, explores the breadth of Fairey's career.
In addition to the now iconic Obama poster, the exhibition includes approximately 200 works, ranging from Fairey's renowned Obey Giant stencil to screen prints of political revolutionaries and rock stars, to recent mixed-media works and a major new commission for the ICA. Pedro H. Alonzo, a longtime champion of Fairey's work in the U.S. and Europe, is the ICA's guest curator of the exhibition. In complement to the exhibition, Fairey will be creating public art works at sites around Boston. Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand opens Feb. 6 and runs through Aug. 16, 2009. The exhibition is accompanied by an expanded, special edition of Supply & Demand, the retrospective publication of the artist's work.
"Shepard Fairey's powerful and varied body of work has reached into all aspects of our visual culture, from political posters to T-shirts and album covers, and now museum installations," says Jill Medvedow, Director of the ICA/Boston. "His integration of design, popular culture, and politics places him in the current of artistic and cultural forces that shape our world today."
"The content of Fairey's work is a call to action about hierarchies and abuses of power, politics and the commodification of culture," says exhibition curator Pedro Alonzo. "Fairey is committed to creating work that has meaning for his audience-by using familiar cultural iconography that people can relate to and by constantly bringing his work into the public sphere."
Fairey gained international recognition in the early 1990s with his Obey Giant campaign, seen on streets around the world on countless stickers and posters that Fairey produced and disseminated. Since then, Fairey has created works of art of all types-on the street, as part of commercial collaborations, and, increasingly, for gallery presentation. Fairey has broken many of the spoken and unspoken rules of contemporary art and culture. Working as a "fine" artist, commercial artist, graphic designer and businessman, Fairey actively resists categorization. Through the Obey project, he has created a cultural phenomenon, but more importantly, a new model of art making and production. He builds off precedents set by artists such as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, as he disrupts expectations about art and business, and muddies the distinctions between fine art and commercial art.
Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand features work in a wide variety of media: screen prints, stencils, stickers, rubylith illustrations, collages, and works on wood, metal and canvas. These works reflect the diversity of Fairey's aesthetic, displaying a variety of influences and references such as Soviet propaganda, psychedelic rock posters, images of Americana, and the layering and weathering of street art. While his provocative imagery draws in his audience, Fairey uses his work as a platform to make statements on social issues important to him. The artist explains his driving motivation: "The real message behind most of my work is 'question everything.'"
This landmark exhibition, co-curated by guest curator Pedro Alonzo and Emily Moore Bouillet, former assistant curator at the ICA, examines prevailing themes in Fairey's work. "Propaganda," "Portraiture," and "Hierarchies of Power" look at the many ways the artist urges critical thinking about the images that surround us, whether advertising, portraits of heroes, or symbols of wealth and power. In the works grouped under "War and Peace," Fairey, responding to recent U.S. military operations, reveals the many faces of conflict. "Stylized" investigates Fairey's Warhol-like blurring of popular culture and fine art, while "Music" illustrates some of the artist's earliest cultural influences. "Question Everything" presents the myriad forms and vehicles for the artist's work, whether stickers, large-scale murals, or framed work on gallery walls.
Shepard Fairey was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1970 and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. He received a BA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1992. He has had recent solo exhibitions at White Walls Gallery, San Francisco (2008); Merry Karnowsky Gallery, Los Angeles (2007); Jonathan Levine Gallery, New York (2007); Stolen Space, London (2007); and Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris (2006). His work is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. Fairey is also the founder of Studio Number One, a graphic design company.
Shepard Fairey's first museum survey is accompanied by an expanded, special-edition version of Supply & Demand, the retrospective catalogue of the artist's work published by Gingko Press, in association with Obey Giant. In addition to existing content, the catalogue includes a special supplement with an introductory essay by Emily Moore Brouillet, a conversation between the artist and the curator, and an essay by musician and author Henry Rollins.
A media preview of Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009, at 9:30 a.m. RSVP to Colette Randall at 617-478-3181 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Artist Talk: Shepard Fairey
Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009, 6:30 pm
The subject of a new ICA survey exhibition, Shepard Fairey shares insights into his work which shifts easily between the realms of fine, commercial, and even political art. Tickets: $20 general admission; $14 members, students (with valid ID) and seniors. This program is made possible through the generosity of Vivien and Alan Hassenfeld.
Friday, Feb. 6, 2009, 9 pm - midnight
On the opening night of his first museum survey, artist Shepard Fairey DJs at the ICA's wildly popular Experiment party. Tickets: $25 general admission; $20 members and students with valid ID. 21 +
Lunchtime Gallery Talk
Shepard Fairey: Supply & Demand
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009, noon
Exhibition curator Pedro Alonzo shares his perspective on working with Shepard Fairey in a program tailor-made for the lunch hour. Free with museum admission. Space is limited. Free tickets are available first-come, first-served one hour before the program. Ticket holders receive a 10% discount at the Water Café. May not be combined with any other offer.
ICA/AIGA Design Series: Design as Social Agent
Saturday, April 4, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Bringing together speakers from the fields of design, street art, music, and politics, this day-long event frames Shepard Fairey's work within the context of grassroots civic action, punk rock, and 80s graffiti and skate culture. Featuring Steve Heller, Elliot Earls, Nicholas Blechman, Luba Lukova, Cliff Stolze, Caleb Neelon, PIXNIT, and Mirko Ilic. Ticketing information TBD.
Bike Tour: Shepard Fairey Off Site
Sunday, May 17, 10 am
Sunday, June 28, 10 am
Exhibition curator Pedro Alonzo leads a bike tour of Fairey's public work in Boston and Cambridge. Stopping at six locations along the way, Alonzo will talk about the context, content, and culture of the artist's work and the relationships between graffiti, public art, graphic design, and advertising. The tour will cover approximately 10 miles. Tickets: $20 general admission; $15 ICA members, students, and seniors
About the ICA
An influential forum for multi-disciplinary arts, The Institute of Contemporary Art has been at the leading edge of art in Boston for seventy years. Like its iconic building on Boston’s waterfront, the ICA offers new ways of engaging with the world around us. Its exhibitions and programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The Institute of Contemporary Art, located at 100 Northern Avenue, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am – 5 pm; Thursday and Friday, 10 am – 9 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm. Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, and free for members and children 17 and under. Free admission on Target Free Thursday Nights, 5-9 pm. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our Web site at http://www.icaboston.org.
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