WOW! – Work of the Week – Shepard Fairey, Sedation Pill HPM



Shepard Fairey
Sedation Pill HPM
2013
HPM (hand-painted multiple), screenprint and mixed media collage on paper
40 x 30 in.
Edition of 10
Pencil signed and numbered


About the work:
IT TAKES THE SEDATION OF MILLIONS TO HOLD US BACK
It’s no secret, Shepard Fairey has always been open about controversial social and political topics, as evidenced in his artwork which promotes awareness of social issues. His aim in his work is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment.
This is exactly what this week’s Work Of the Week! WOW!, Sedation Pill HPM depicts. Shepard comments about this work, “The Sedation Pill print is inspired by the title of my favorite Public Enemy album “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back”. I think the biggest problem in America is the indifference and complacency about important issues that results from much of the population being perpetually hypnotized by conspicuous consumption, social media, entertainment, and self-medication. Using sedation and escapism for relief from the rat race might make us less aware (blissfully ignorant) but also less empowered to improve our role within the rat race… a vicious cycle of cause and effect.”
However, something very interesting about this work, that many may not notice until pointed out is the influence of another social and political activist artist.
Fairey’s Sedation Pill could have been crafted 50 years ago by famed Pop artist Robert Indiana.
Using words like Stay Alert and Eyes Open as imagery to effectively convey his message, and of course the title of the work “It takes the sedation of millions to hold us back”. Fairey, creatively taking a page from Indiana’s playbook, not only uses words, but also positions them along side of geometric forms and shapes, and effective fonts to emphasize not only the word but its connotations.
Indiana brilliantly understood that words would not be enough. He had to pair them with form, shape, color, and draw the viewer in by making the work visually optical, and kinetic. Shepard Fairey did all this with Sedation Pill.
If the influence of Robert Indiana is not obvious to the viewer just on the merits of the work itself, well then Fairey let us know by adding the number 5 at the top right and bottom left of the work.
In 1963, Indiana paintied “The Figure 5”, owned by the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington D.C.

Shepard Fairey, Sedation Pill HPM (detail)
Robert Indiana, The Figure 5

“I had seen a large retrospective of Demuth’s work and was mightily impressed. So I got off on that subject. I used the Demuth painting as a theme and, not liking to do those kinds of things, I decided to make the painting an homage to Demuth because I’m very fond of his work. There were five paintings all related to that particular theme, and those words simply came from earlier works. Some of my first word paintings were, for instance, just “EAT” “DIE”. And “EAT” “DIE” of course stem from the fact that the last word that my mother said before she died was “Eat.” But it relates to other aspects of the American scene. To complement “EAT” “DIE”– one really couldn’t go on doing that forever – I thought of the supplementary idea of “HUG” “ERR.” “HUG” was a family word for giving affection and so forth, and so it began to suggest covering some of the more formal aspects of life — existence and love and survival and sin and what have you.” — Robert Indiana
Sedation Pill HPM is a Hand Painted Multiple. This means that the entire paper that the work is printed on is all made of collaged elements of newspaper, torn stenciled patterns on paper, that Fairey is so well known for. Once the collaged paper is created, the image is then silkscreened on top of the paper. The torn elements of paper create a raw or rough look, as if this work was pasted on a wall on top of other previous works that had been there and have a worn or weathered look. After the silkscreen is placed on top Fairey then goes back and hand paints on top of the silkscreen, and margins.

 

WOW – Work Of the Week – Shepard Fairey “Ramone Canvas”

Ramone Canvas

Shepard Fairey
Ramone Canvas
2002
Screenprint on canvas
24 x 18 in.
Artist’s Proof (A.P.)

Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

“Most of my heroes don’t appear on stamps or in art galleries.  No matter how much I love art, or try to convince myself of its relevance in society the fact remains that music is a lot cooler and way more able to reach people’s hearts and minds”  – Shepard Fairey

Music has always had a huge influence on pop culture. Every generation had a defining genre of music.  Music, like art speaks volumes about the times in which we live in. Just as art, music is constantly changing.  Shepard Fairey’s brand of art is Street Art. Real street art touches upon the pulse of the everyday person, whose perception of what art is about is not in a museum, but rather on the street. Music touches the everyday person, much like the street art of Shepard Fairey and his contemporaries.

Society emulates musicians, society hums their music, society sings their lyrics. Fairey’s art is an extension of what music does to society. His work talks about the social, environmental, political, and every day issues that concern the everyday person.

His work became more widely known in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, specifically his Barack Obama “Hope” poster. The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl called the poster “the most efficacious American political illustration since ‘Uncle Sam Wants You‘”.

This week’s Work Of the Week (WOW) is a very rare silkscreen on canvas of one of Shepard Fairey’s favorite Punk Rock icons, Joey Ramone. The Ramone Canvas as it has come to be known, was done in 2002. There are only 2 of these pieces ever made, plus 1 AP (artist’s proof) and 1 PP (printer’s proof).

Needless to say, this work is extremely rare.

In 2002 – 2003 Fairey produced a Punk Pioneers suite. The first piece of this series was Joey Ramone, lead singer of the Ramones. Despite others that had come before him setting the stage for the punk rock genre, such as Iggy Pop or the Stooges, the Ramones, according to Fairey “really set the wheels in motion” in the realm of punk music.

The other icons in Punk Pioneers suite are Johnny Rotten, Joe Strummer, Glenn Danzig, Henry Rollins, and Ian MacKaye. However, the only work on canvas was of Joey Ramone. All the other icons were silkscreen on paper and in an edition of 300.

The whereabouts of the 2 editioned Ramone Canvas are unknown. The printer’s proof has been found, and archived, but has a tear to the canvas. Thus, leaving the Artist’s Proof left, which belongs to Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art, the only known work in mint condition.

WOW – Work Of the Week – Shepard Fairey “Power Bidder”

Power Bidder

SHEPARD FAIREY
Power Bidder
2015
Screenprint
24 x 18 in.
Edition of 450

Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

Tomorrow, finally, will be Election Day.
Both candidates carry a lot of baggage with them.

Both candidates have very high unfavorable poll numbers.

Both candidate are flawed.

Questions about politicians and just how ethical they are, and how ethical the whole system is, have been raised. Charges of unlawful and unjust “dealings” have been tossed around for the whole world to see just how much of a mockery this election is. 

Due to tomorrow’s elections, we feel that this particular artwork is very fitting and we found its message very appropriate for this occasion.

This weeks work of the week is called Power Bidder, by Shepard Fairey

At the bottom of the work it reads “Democracy sold to the highest bidder”.

With all the craziness, and nonsense that has surrounded this election cycle, it seem that truer have never been spoken!

Frank Shepard Fairey (born February 15, 1970) is an American contemporary graphic designer and illustrator who emerged from the skateboarding scene. He first became known for his “Andre the Giant Has a Posse”
(…OBEY…) sticker campaign.

Fairey created the “André the Giant Has a Posse” sticker campaign in 1989, while attending the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). This later evolved into the “Obey Giant” campaign.  As with most street artists, the Obey Giant was intended to inspire curiosity and cause the masses to question their relationship with their surroundings.

His work became more widely known in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, specifically his Barack Obama “Hope” poster. The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl called the poster “the most efficacious American political illustration since ‘Uncle Sam Wants You'”.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston calls him one of today’s best known and most influential street artists.

His work is included in the collections at The Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

In 2011 Time Magazine commissioned Fairey to design its cover to honor “The Protester” as Person of the Year in the wake of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and other social movements around the world.  This was Fairey’s second Person of the Year cover for Time, his first being of Barack Obama in 2008.

WOW! – Work Of the Week – Shepard Fairey “Obey ’04 (Wage Peace)”

Retro Series - Obey 04

Shepard Fairey aka OBEY

OBEY ’04 (Wage Peace)

2006

Screenprint

42 x 30 in.

Edition of 89

Pencil signed and numbered

ABOUT THIS WORK:

Shepard Fairey’s background is rooted in American skate and punk rock culture, with his work born out of a combination of a graffiti aesthetic and Pop art sensibilities. Straddling the divide between the fine art world and the street art world, Fairey—despite his massive popularity—has had to wait to be accepted by the more traditional art world. His higher profile has also, in turn, gotten him into some serious problems with law enforcement (he recently faced felony charges in Detroit, despite eighteen prior arrests for illegal tagging). Fairey said of this conflict: “To some people street art is vandalism, to others it’s gentrification, and either of those could be considered more legit than the other depending on your perspective“.

His artwork stands out in both the street and in a gallery setting. Although he is still viewed primarily as a street artist despite his indisputable commercial success. Fairey’s use of powerful, accessible images and messages display an influence from early advertising, alternative culture, and Pop artists like Andy Warhol. This combination of clear messaging and graphic compositions gives his work a broad appeal that speaks to a wide cross section of society. “Street art has to stand out from the static, and contend with the metabolism of the city“. He evokes communist propaganda, Barbara Kruger style advertorials and Jasper Johns subversion.

Fairey’s work also has a strong political component. He was already well known for his OBEY Andre the Giant tags and stickers before he created the image Obama Hope in 2008, a block-colored portrait of the presidential hopeful Barack Obama. The image, now world-famous, was subsequently adopted as the official presidential campaign image and became probably his most famous image. In addition, he also created a poster in support of Ai Weiwei’s—now successful—campaign to regain his passport in 2014.

Early in his career, during the OBEY sticker campaign that made him famous, Fairey seriously questioned the nature of his imagery, firmly establishing himself as an outspoken counter-culture figure, often addressing issues of war, human rights, ecology, and politics.

His art can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology. Heidegger describes Phenomenology as “the process of letting things manifest themselves.” Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the product or motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with this art provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail.

A perfect example of this is the work entitled Obey ’04, from the Retro Series. The silhouette of the soldier is a strong graphic form against the red background. Here we can see all the typical elements that characterize Fairey’s art: red, beige and black colors, modern and current subjects and the predominant presence of the graphic element.

Also present is the image Fairey became known for, the Andre The Giant face. This is represented by the soldier holding up this iconic image. We also see it in that sort of mandala shaped like a star in the upper right, a true symbol of the artist.

Fairey, who is definitely a pacifist, creates work that speak of peace and war, conveying his concern with politics.Here we can see the words “wage peace” instead of the typical “wage war”, and a flower inside the rifle instead of bullets.

The Obey ’04 from the Retro Series was created to commemorate the 20 year anniversary of the artwork of OBEY. The series was first released for the opening of Shepard’s 20 years Retrospective at the ICA Boston.