Is Shepard Fairey A Plagiarist?
Shepard Fairey is the guy that made that now-ubiquitous Obama poster. The guy has certainly got his 15 minutes of fame leading up to the inauguration and, well, throughout the week. Fairey has been critiqued as a hack and an opportunist. And a guy who likes his 15 minutes of fame. The guy has done Charlie Rose's show. Glad I missed that one. But I dig his art.
Now the bad stuff, the really bad stuff. The AP is going after him for using its photo of Obama in his poster:
"The image, Fairey has acknowledged, is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Manny Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.
The AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation. Fairey disagrees.
'The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission,' the AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement."
And there's been a new critique making the rounds. The critique is that he's a plagiarist. Artist Mark Vallen lobbed the missive a while ago. But it's starting to pop up now.
"Plagiarism is the deliberate passing off of someone else's work as your own, and Shepard Fairey may be unfamiliar with the term – but not the act. This article is not about the innocent absorption of visual ideas that later materialize unconsciously in an artist's work, we do after all live in a maelstrom of images and we can't help but be affected by them. Nor am I referring to an artist's direct influences – which artist can claim not to have been inspired by techniques or styles employed by others? What I am concerned with is the brazen, intentional copying of already existing artworks created by others – sometimes duplicating the originals without alteration – and then deceiving people by pawning off the counterfeit works as original creations."
Vallen goes on to get personal:
"Perhaps the most important falsehood concerning Fairey's behavior is that it is motivated by some grand theory of aesthetics or weighty political philosophy – but I'm afraid the only scheme at work is the one intended to make Fairey wealthy and famous. Some have, for whatever reason, imagined Fairey to be a progressive political figure, a perception certainly cultivated by the artist; but it's also not impossible to view Fairey's work as right-wing in essence, since it largely ransacks leftist history and imagery while the artist laughs all the way to the bank."