Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shepard Fairey's Sell Out is Complete


“Some people might think it could be making fun of what’s going on right now,” Shepard Fairey told the New York Times last week. “But I think most people are sophisticated enough to realize it’s a way of grabbing attention. It’s commerce. I don’t think there is really any political statement embedded in this.”

He was talking about his new shopping bag designs for Saks Fifth Avenue, the luxury department store that has suffered steep drops in holiday sales despite its steep drops in prices.

Appropriating Soviet iconography to sell handbags? Repurposing communist imagery for capitalism? Selling your own artistic style for advertising? Nah, no one would think that Fairey is doing anything political. What he's doing is eroding his credibility as a political artist and in the process diminishing the meaning of his now famous Obama poster.

“What we do every day, really, is propaganda,” said Saks' marketing head Terron Schaefer told the Times. True, and we expect this from Saks.

But to think that the guy who made his name with posters of Subcomandante Marcos (and giving the proceeds to the Zapatistas) and other lefty causes would use the same style for luxury department store propaganda is too much.

"It's not like I'm just jumping on some cool rebel cause for the sake of exploiting it for profit," Fairey told Mother Jones in an interview last March. Aha!

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