Best Museum Acquisition

Best: Obama Hope Portrait, Barack Obama by Shepard Fairey, the National Portrait Gallery
8th and F Sts. NW, (202) 633-8300
2nd Best: Obama Hope Portrait, Barack Obama by Shepard Fairey, the National Portrait Gallery
8th and F Sts. NW, (202) 633-8300
The first-ever image of Obama to be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery was Shepard Fairey’s iconic portrait (the same one that’s now the subject of a costly lawsuit between the artist and the Associated Press). As the copyright lawyers fumed, tourists flocked to the museum to have their photo taken in front of the piece (a gift of collectors Tony and Heather Podesta), making it as popular as the limited display of the Stephen Colbert painting. For these reasons, the portrait is the best acquisition of the year, but it’s also the second-best—and the third, fourth, and fifth, if we’re counting that high. Because, let’s face it: This has been Fairey’s year. The 39-year-old artist has achieved nearly an Octomom level of fascination and ubiquity, and faces his critics with aplomb. We’ll see how the lawsuit turns out for Fairey, but it’s safe to say that his image—fair use or not—is one that the Portrait Gallery will treasure. 
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