FAIREY’S NEW VIEW ON ART: Practically in lockstep with his first solo exhibition in New York in five years, Shepard Fairey showed the spring collection for his Obey sportswear label earlier this week. Rooted in Fairey’s art, design and ideals, the clothing business is an offshoot of what the company described as “an absurd sticker” he created in 1989 as a Rhode Island School of Design undergrad. Said sticker was known as the “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” campaign, inspired by the WWE pro wrestler by the same name.
Fairey’s spring looks are decidedly more tame than the one-shoulder unitard favored by the late elbow-drop, sitdown-splashing WWE star. An Avignon crewneck top, military Jetset pants, a Bitter End snapfront jacket and printed shorts are among the styles that were on view at The Hatbox in the Refinery Hotel earlier in the week. But Fairey had other things to tend to — namely, the “On Our Hands” exhibition that is up at the Jacob Lewis Gallery. He also had a mural to polish off in Jersey City. On view through Oct. 24, the show in West Chelsea is a new body of work — paintings with canvasses in densely collaged relief. As the name suggests, the new work explores political corruption, environmental apathy and abuse of power among other timely issues.
In what seems to be a trifecta, Fairey’s new book “Covert to Overt: The Underground/Overground Art of Shepard Fairey” will be published by Rizzoli Sept. 29.
The new book examines the artist’s work after Fairey’s 2008 “Hope” poster of Barack Obama helped brand the future president. Fairey has since made it clear that he has mixed views about today’s culture of self-branding and its role in politics. In an interview with WWD this spring, Fairey declined to comment about the legal copyright battle with the Associated Press over the “Hope” campaign poster that was settled out of court in 2011. The following year he was sentenced in federal court in Manhattan to two years of probation and fined $25,000 for tampering with evidence in the case.
In July, Fairey turned himself in to Detroit authorities, after facing felony charges of malicious destruction of property. Detroit police had issued a warrant for his arrest in June, a month after he visited the city to create his largest authorized mural to date there, though that was not the work that prompted the warrant for his arrest.
The new book is meant to help turn the page on the “Hope” chapter by highlighting some of the street murals, mixed media, installations, silkscreens, art-music events and other pieces of work he has done since. The tome also spells out his influence with such notables as Russell Brand, Chris Stein and Jello Biafra. The artist will sit down with the Blondie-guitarist-turned-photographer Stein to talk about “the world of art and art of the world” at NeueHouse. Fairey reimagined one of the photos that Stein created of the flaxen-haired Eighties singer.