Adbusters

Blog: Did Fairey Steal The Magic?

He may not owe AP anything, but that doesn't mean the image is his alone.

Amid the thicket of legal issues surrounding the recent Shepard Fairey/Associated Press dispute over rights to the iconic "Hope" image, I can't help but think that we seem to have missed a fairly simply point. Fairey may not owe the AP anything, but he certainly owes the photographer responsible for the image something. I'm not talking about a cut of the profits or shared ownership of the rights – just an acknowledgment of the artist who originally captured Obama in that moment.

When I finally saw the two images side by side – the photograph, taken by photographer Mannie Garcia and Fairey's subsequent interpretation of it – I was struck by how little the original had actually been altered. Though Fairey's attorney contends that Fairey only used the photo as a reference and transformed it into "a stunning, abstracted and idealized visual image that created powerful new meaning and conveys a radically different message," the transcendent solemnity that gives the image its power is fully evident in the original photograph.

Fairey may have had the vision to immortalize the image, but it was Garcia who had the prescience to immortalize the moment. Why did it take a lawsuit for this photograph and its provenance to become public knowledge? If Fairey's talent as an artist lies within his ability to abstract and idealize existing imagery, then why is he so unwilling to openly reference his sources? In this case, I think Fairey should have given credit where credit is due and that he should have done so long before lawyers became involved.

Feb 10, 2009: This post has been updated.

Adbusters 111 Cover

On Newsstands December 3

At last we’re in Winter. It’s the year 2047. A worn scrapbook from the future arrives in your lap. It offers a stunning global vision, a warning to the next generations, a repository of practical wisdom, and an invaluable roadmap which you need to navigate the dark times, and the opportunities, which lie ahead.

Subscribe to Adbusters Magazine

72 comments on the article “Blog: Did Fairey Steal The Magic?”

Displaying 41 - 50 of 72

Page 5 of 8

Carrie Armstron...

Ummm, hello? Warhol? Campbell's Soup? Jackie O? Didn't we do this already? Does the photographer lose ALL rights to Obama if we want to break it down? Because let's face it, it's his face and the guy snapped a camera at it in a typical, almost blank pose. Fairey's composition made it into something more stoic, even if it was just making into a block of colors. They don't look the same to me, sorry. It's obvious that it was used for the interpretation, but Obama is not yellow, red and blue. He'd be a jerk not to tell the world where he got it, but it's an otherwise unremarkable photo made into a semi-remarkable image. There are thousands of shots of Obama with this expression... he makes it all the time. But because of the angle of his head and the flag in the background (which the artist pretty much removed, leaving only its "idea"), it's some sort of untouchable piece of history? The artist made it history... or whoever bought the idea and decided to splash it all over the place. It would have never been adopted as a symbol for the man, just another photo of him. Google it, you'll find tons.

Carrie Armstron...

Ummm, hello? Warhol? Campbell's Soup? Jackie O? Didn't we do this already? Does the photographer lose ALL rights to Obama if we want to break it down? Because let's face it, it's his face and the guy snapped a camera at it in a typical, almost blank pose. Fairey's composition made it into something more stoic, even if it was just making into a block of colors. They don't look the same to me, sorry. It's obvious that it was used for the interpretation, but Obama is not yellow, red and blue. He'd be a jerk not to tell the world where he got it, but it's an otherwise unremarkable photo made into a semi-remarkable image. There are thousands of shots of Obama with this expression... he makes it all the time. But because of the angle of his head and the flag in the background (which the artist pretty much removed, leaving only its "idea"), it's some sort of untouchable piece of history? The artist made it history... or whoever bought the idea and decided to splash it all over the place. It would have never been adopted as a symbol for the man, just another photo of him. Google it, you'll find tons.

Anonymous

In a video interview that appeared in the Ovation Network documentary, Art or Not, Gleason compared Fairey's art to advertisments for Coca-Cola, saying; "They're both on the street, they're both promoting a brand, and at the end of the day, it's a very empty experience." Gleason went on to say that, "I think that the art experience is to raise someone's consciousness, and at the end of the day the Shepard Fairey experience is to promote the brand of Shepard Fairey as a corporate entity, so I don't consider it art. He is about the furthest thing from art there is."

Anonymous

In a video interview that appeared in the Ovation Network documentary, Art or Not, Gleason compared Fairey's art to advertisments for Coca-Cola, saying; "They're both on the street, they're both promoting a brand, and at the end of the day, it's a very empty experience." Gleason went on to say that, "I think that the art experience is to raise someone's consciousness, and at the end of the day the Shepard Fairey experience is to promote the brand of Shepard Fairey as a corporate entity, so I don't consider it art. He is about the furthest thing from art there is."

Anonymous

A photographer's view about having his work appropriated: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/06/arts/design/06prin.html?_r=4&ref=arts&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Anonymous

A photographer's view about having his work appropriated: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/06/arts/design/06prin.html?_r=4&ref=arts&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Anonymous

Suggested "best practices" for using the graphic artwork of others http://www.docspopuli.org/articles/RecyclingArt.html

Anonymous

Suggested "best practices" for using the graphic artwork of others http://www.docspopuli.org/articles/RecyclingArt.html

Pages

Add a new comment

Comments are closed.