The latest issue of The New Yorker carries a tart appraisal by the veteran art critic Peter Schjeldahl of Echo Park graphic artist Shepard Fairey. With the pandemic success of his "Obama Hope" poster illustration, and recent Boston arrest for grafitti crimes, Fairey has begun to disturb the afternoon nap of mainstream art criticism. Schjeldahl, who is one of the few East Coast critics to acknowledge Los Angeles' place in the current constellation of world art capitals, recalls the summer afternoon he discovered Fairey's Obama iconography -- stencilled on the sidewalk of a Catskills village:
"The reward with Fairey's picture was a thrill of concerted purpose, guarded against fatuity by coolly candid deliberation. The effect is that of epic poetry in an everyday tongue."
Schjeldahl professes boredom with the Associated Press' claim of
copyright infringement against Fairey's use of one of the agency's
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photos on which he based "Obama Hope," but he also dismisses the
artist's big Supply and Demand solo retrospective, currently at Boston's Institute of
Contemporary Art, to be "dated on arrival." More sharply, he claims that Fairey's ouevre, up until now, doesn't present a threat to
the status quo: "It's as if Fairey meant to ridicule rebellion."