March 12, 2009  |  Uncategorized


A wise man once said “writing about art is like dancing about architecture,” but in a world where oceans of self-aggrandizing “artspeak” usually says much about an author’s ego and little to nothing about artwork itself, Supertouch‘s own resident legendary art writer CARLO McCORMICK is the exception to the rule. This month finds him penning an incredibly astute piece on SHEPARD FAIREY for ART IN AMERICA from the rarified perspective of a genuinely street-level art world insider more at home on the Bowery than in Chelsea. At a time when the slow-moving mainstream art world and its legion of stiff-jointed scribes are playing years of painful catch-up on the “street art” game, this is a must-read:

By Carlo McCormick | Art in America

In a thank-you note written by Barack Obama to street artist Shepard Fairey for the pictorial provocateur’s singular contribution to branding his campaign for the presidency, the then senator wrote: “The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe that they can help change the status-quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign.”

High praise indeed from such a highly regarded public figure. But what it ultimately says—that there is a cultural equivalence between fine art shown in established venues and artistic expressions put up illegally on private or government property—represents a tacit sanction of street art from the leader of the free world that is a dramatic shift in the perceived role of art as a radical tool of social intervention.

Emblazoned in our collective mind’s eye as a defining icon of optimism and change, Fairey’s Obama Hope poster, certainly one of his most endearing and personable images, is such a signature work that the original collage was recently acquired by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and related images graced the covers of Time and Esquire. It is, however, not a fleeting pop-culture sensation but simply the latest crossover hit in a long line of underground classics.

Fairey has made such an indelible mark on our visual landscape that it is difficult to avoid the platitudes we might otherwise eschew in the discourse of contemporary art. As he comes under greater scrutiny from the art establishment with a major retrospective of his work, now on view at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, it is worth noting that his renown has grown organically from the streets and a global youth culture that the mainstream art world has only a vague grasp of. Click HERE to continue reading…

Comments are closed.