Category: Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey, street artists brighten West Hollywood library

July 27, 2011 | 10:59 am


The new public library in West Hollywood isn't expected to officially open until October, but at least one component of the complex is already garnering public attention: a new group of murals created by street artists Shepard Fairey, Retna and Kenny Scharf.

The outdoor murals are a joint project by the artists, the city of West Hollywood and the Museum of Contemporary Art. They can be found on the library's parking structure, near the corner of Melrose Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard, across from the Pacific Design Center.

Andrew Campbell, the city's cultural affairs administrator, said in an interview that officials had invited MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch to tour the library while it was under construction. He said Deitch saw the walls and thought they would make an ideal extension of the museum's "Art in the Streets" exhibition.

Scharf Fairey's large-scale mural features a peace dove next to an elephant, both rendered in his signature style. You can view more photos of the near-finished artwork on Fairey's website.

"Calm down taxpayers … I was not paid to do the mural and paid for my own supplies and labor," the artist wrote on his site.

Fairey's mural stands 70 feet by 106 feet. The street artist has also been commissioned to create indoor work for the library, along with artist David Wiseman.

On another part of the parking structure, Retna has created a textual mural that incorporates strangely encrypted blue writing, which is said to be quotations from Salman Rushdie. Scharf's mural, on yet another part of the building, features a colorful explosion of cartoon-like characters.

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Shepard Fairey creates music video with indie band Death Cab for Cutie

May 16, 2011 |  9:00 am

Shepard Fairey is no stranger to the world of indie rock. The L.A. street artist has carved out a side career as a DJ and has made his share of album cover art for edgy bands. Recently, Fairey participated in the making of a music video for Death Cab for Cutie. The video, above, is for the single "Home Is a Fire," from the forthcoming album "Codes and Keys."

Fairey collaborated on the video with Death Cab bassist Nick Harmer. The video captures the poetic emptiness of of L.A. streets around Echo Park and downtown. It also pays special attention to the graffiti and street art that can be found in the neighborhoods, including some street art by Fairey himself.

On the band's website, Harmer states that Fairey is a friend: "It was a logical step in my mind to take a song about redefining familiar space and connect it to the visual artistic expression of street art... So I called Shepard and asked him if he would be into figuring out a way to do this and also make it compelling. From the very first conversation, Shepard could see this intersection between his world and mine and knew exactly what to do and how to do it."


Fairey Art review: 'Art in the Streets' at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Shepard Fairey to settle 'Hope' poster case with Associated Press

Shepard Fairey weighs in on MOCA's mural controversy

Graffiti and street art show to take over MOCA's Geffen Contemporary

-- David Ng

 Photo: Shepard Fairey. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Art review: 'Art in the Streets' at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

April 15, 2011 |  4:46 pm


It’s generally not a good idea to censor a mural you commissioned, especially when that mural is part of a show about uncommissioned street art.

When Museum of Contemporary Art director and curator Jeffrey Deitch whitewashed a mural by Italian artist Blu in December, the episode perfectly illustrated how graffiti’s unruly, in-your-face attitude, even when sanitized under the banner of “street art,” might not be a good fit for a museum retrospective. The very idea of the exhibition “Art in the Streets” at the Geffen Contemporary asks whether this erstwhile outlaw culture can or should be folded into the grand narrative of art history.

Despite its first, faltering steps, the exhibition answers this question with a resounding “Yes.” Viewers will encounter a bombastic, near-overwhelming cavalcade of eye candy: colorful swirling murals, immersive installations, walls papered with candid and provocative photos, and a custom-designed skate ramp. Immodestly anticipating the response, there’s even a big “WOW” painted on the inside of the building’s roll down doors. But the exhibition’s strong suit is not its impressive array of large-scale work but rather its art historical treatment of an outsider form, complete with a timeline, “period” rooms, and plenty of video and photographic documentation.

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MOCA's 'Art in the Streets' exhibition brings unwanted neighborhood effect: graffiti vandalism

April 14, 2011 |  4:24 pm


While museum director Jeffrey Deitch was unveiling his "Art in the Streets" exhibition Thursday at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in a preview for invited guests, the Los Angeles Police Department reported a spike in graffiti and vandalism in the museum's Little Toyko neighborhood.

Deitch addressed the media and a crowd that included Shepard Fairey, Fab 5 Freddy and other graffiti and street artists whose works are on display in the expansive survey, which opens to the public Sunday. The press event took place in front of a Metro bus newly painted by RISK, a Los Angeles graffiti artist.

As our sister blog LA Now reports here, the LAPD has noted dozens of tags, including monikers and larger so-called bombs showing up in the last two days on several commercial buildings behind 1st Street as well dumpsters and light poles within a stone's throw of the museum entrance.

LAPD Officer Jack Richter told LA Now, "We respect the rights to have an art exhibition, but we demand the security of other people's property."

Deitch told Culture Monster that MOCA anticipated that what's being billed as the first major U.S. museum exhibition on graffiti and street art could bring unwanted and unauthorized ancillary activity from "some of the young taggers who are anarchic. ... It's a language of youth culture, and we can't stop it. It goes with the territory."

But in hopes of minimizing the impact on neighbors, he said, "we're making an extra effort" by instructing security guards patrolling outside the museum to keep an eye on the surrounding neighborhood as well. Deitch declined to give specifics on what that would entail.

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Ex-colleague of Jeffrey Deitch to curate art show coinciding with his big MOCA moment

April 7, 2011 |  8:45 am

Show Jeffrey Deitch’s first big initiative as director of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art is “Art in the Streets,” which opens April 17 at the Geffen Contemporary, billed as “the first major U.S. museum exhibition on the history of graffiti and street art.”

Turns out that a former colleague from his previous life as an art dealer is curating a gallery show in Culver City that's timed to coincide with her old boss' doings in downtown L.A. Kathy Grayson, who was gallery director for Deitch Projects, the New York City art business that Deitch liquidated so he could accept the MOCA job, has organized “Facemaker,” a show about contemporary artists’ conceptions of the human face, which opens April 14 at Royal/T, a 10,000-square-foot venue that features an art space, store and Japanese-themed cafe. 

The show’s announcement says the focus is on art that “challenges our assumptions and makes us consider the face in new ways.”  It aims to have its own street-art dimension, and the announcement promises a substantial overlap with figures whose work is included in “Art in the Streets.” Among the artists in the show at Royal/T are Shepard Fairey, Takashi Murakami, Barry McGee and Kenny Scharf. The title piece (pictured), by L.A.-based Ben Jones, is a large-screen video installation of shifting faces.

Along with Meghan Coleman, a former Deitch Projects colleague, curator Grayson is proprietor of the Hole, a Manhattan gallery launched last June, just as their ex-boss began at MOCA. They started it as a home for some of the artists who had been represented by Deitch Projects, naming it to suggest that his 3,000-mile jump had left a hole behind.


DeitchIllustrationbyWes Blu says MOCA's removal of his mural amounts to censorship

Critic's notebook: MOCA's complicated choice of a new director

Jeffrey Deitch on to another art adventure at MOCA

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Screen shot from Ben Jones' video artwork "Facemaker." Credit: Courtesy of the Hole (NYC).

A street-art satire of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, done Shepard Fairey-style

March 29, 2011 | 12:30 pm

Posse In recent weeks, street-art stickers have been appearing around Los Angeles satirizing Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg. What's noteworthy about the stickers is that they appear to be created in the style of Shepard Fairey, featuring the artist's "Obey" logo printed in Facebook's signature white-on-blue font.

The stickers feature a mug-shot rendering of Zuckerberg, surrounded by the text "Mark Zuckerberg has a posse," "$6.9 billion" and "500,000,000 friends."

Look familiar? In the late '80s, Fairey created his viral street-art campaign known as "Andre the Giant has a posse." The campaign became a worldwide phenomenon and remains one of Fairey's most recognizable works.

The creator of the Zuckerberg stickers appears to have modeled his or her design directly on the Andre the Giant campaign, down to the placement of the text and the mug-shot-style artwork.

Is Fairey behind the Zuckerberg stickers, copying his own past success? Or is someone satirizing Fairey satirizing Zuckerberg? (The possible levels of po-mo artistic commentary are endless.)

For now, it appears that the latter is true. The word from Fairey's spokesman is that the artist isn't the creator of the Zuckerberg stickers. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Fairey Shepard Fairey to settle "Hope" poster case with Associated Press

Shepard Fairey discusses future projects at L.A. Live party

Shepard Fairey weighs in on MOCA's mural controversy

Graffiti and street art show to take over MOCA's Geffen Contemporary in 2011

 -- David Ng

Upper photo A sticker satirizing Mark Zuckerberg on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Credit: David Ng / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Shepard Fairey. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Shepard Fairey discusses future projects at L.A. Live party

January 20, 2011 |  2:00 pm


On Wednesday evening, Shepard Fairey and a few other street artists took over the 51st-floor penthouse space at the swanky new Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. Live where a party was being held in conjuction with the L.A. Art Show.

Fairey was on hand to present a few new mandala-inspired collages and to serve as DJ for the evening. Before hitting the turntables, however, the artist spent some time chatting with Culture Monster about future projects, including the group survey show "Art in the Streets" at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art. He also offered a few choice words about his recent decision to settle his legal case with the Associated Press.

Fairey said he is hard at work on the MOCA show, which is scheduled to open in April at the Geffen Contemporary. He said he will contribute several new and existing pieces to the exhibition, including what he calls "graphic re-illustrations of my outdoor work."

The artist explained that he wants to give museum visitors a taste of the size and scale of his outdoor murals, which are often large-scale and feature eclectic images inspired by various aspects of pop culture. He said he plans to contribute at least eight new pieces to the MOCA show.

Fairey said that he's still thinking about the recent MOCA controversy involving the street artist Blu, whose mural in downtown L.A. depicting military caskets covered in dollar bills was painted over after the museum decided it was inappropriate due to its proximity to a Veterans Affairs facility.

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Shepard Fairey to settle 'Hope' poster case with Associated Press

January 12, 2011 |  9:46 am


Artist Shepard Fairey and the Associated Press confirmed Wednesday that they are settling out of court their legal case that involves Fairey's "Hope" poster depicting then-Sen. Barack Obama. But a lawyer for the AP added that the news organization is still pursuing its case against Obey Clothing, in which Fairey is a partner and that has reproduced the image on various items of clothing.

Fairey's poster of Obama was inspired by a photograph taken by an AP freelancer in 2006. The AP subsequently accused the Los Angeles artist of copyright infringement, with Fairey maintaining that it falls under fair-use laws.

A settlement means that the March trial between Fairey and the AP in New York will not take place. As part of their settlement, Fairey has agreed he will not use another AP photo in his work without obtaining a license from the news organization. 

The two sides also have agreed to share the rights to make the posters and merchandise bearing the "Hope" image. In addition, Fairey and the AP have agreed to additional financial terms that are confidential.

"I am pleased to have resolved the dispute with the Associated Press," Fairey said in a statement. "I respect the work of photographers, as well as recognize the need to preserve opportunities for other artists to make fair use of photographic images. I often collaborate with photographers in my work, and I look forward to working with photos provided by the AP's talented photographers."

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‘Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art’ Features Work by Keith Haring, Spencer Tunick, Shepard Fairey and Banksy

January 8, 2011 |  8:00 am

Minotaur With all the controversy surrounding last month's Blu-Jeffrey Deitch mural imbroglio at the Museum of Contemporary Art's Geffen Contemporary and serious talk of British street's artist Banksy's chances of an Oscar nomination for his documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop," some may be wondering just what all the fuss is about.

Taschen offers a crash course in the origins and players in the street art movement over the last four decades with "Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art," ($39.99).

"Every picture included in the book is an unauthorized and uncommissioned work of art, " said Marc Schiller, co-curator and co-founder of the Wooster Collective (along with his wife Sara Schiller) in New York City. "It's an ephemeral art that sometimes lasts only 30 minutes with the artists on the run. The last thing they are thinking about is the documentation."

The works of 150 artists are featured including Keith Haring, Spencer Tunick, Shepard Fairey, Barry McGee and Banksy, who also wrote the introduction.

 Schiller and his wife, Sara, focused on the last 15 years, when street art took off, while editor Ethel Seno tracked down archival drawings and photographs, including one from 1517 of Martin Luther, posting the 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Germany - an early example of individual ideologues trespassing  on public space.

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Shepard Fairey weighs in on MOCA's mural controversy

December 14, 2010 |  7:18 pm


When the anarchical spirit of street art meets the buttoned-down world of museums, the results can sometimes be messy and even controversial. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles learned it the hard way this weekend when it decided to remove a mural it had commissioned from the Italian street artist Blu, only to face accusations of censorship.

Someone who has successfully walked the fine line between being a street artist and a museum-world player is Shepard Fairey. The L.A.-based Fairey began his career as a graffiti artist and has since built his own art empire, exhibiting his creations in some of the top museums around the world.

Fairey also happens to be an associate of Jeffrey Deitch, the director of MOCA who decided to remove the Blu mural. In his former role as a dealer, Deitch exhibited Fairey's work at his New York gallery, Deitch Projects.

In April, Fairey will be one of many artists whose work will be part of MOCA's "Art in the Streets," a massive survey of graffiti and street art from the 1970s to the present.

When asked about the MOCA controversy, Fairey said in an e-mail that "this is a complex situation that could have been avoided [altogether] with better communication." He added that "the situation is unfortunate but I understand MOCA’s decision."

Here is Fairey's reaction to the MOCA controversy...

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