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Displaying items by tag: Shepard Fairey

The street artist Shepard Fairey may get a lot of laughs when he visits Portland, but if he sets foot in Detroit anytime soon things will get very serious. Last week a felony arrest warrant for the globetrotting street artist was filed with the 36th District Court, accusing him of $9,000 in property damage and two counts of malicious destruction of property related to unsanctioned works he created when he visited Detroit in May to create an 18-story mural and open an exhibition of his work at the Library Street Collective. He could face more than $10,000 in fines and up to five years in jail...

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On Monday night, non-profit organization Americans for the Arts held its annual fundraising gala in the Cipriani ballroom across from New York’s Grand Central Station. The black tie affair brought together a blue chip who’s who including RoseLee Goldberg, Agnes Gund, and Jeffrey Deitch as well as artists like Frank Stella and Will Cotton. Cocktail hour offered guests the chance to pick up a limited-edition print by Shepard Fairey to benefit the charity. “I feel like a bit of an imposter in this realm because I come from a not-asking-for-permission background,” admitted Fairey, who looked oddly at home in a suit. “But I am enjoying the company.”

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Many artists are perfectly content to present their viewers with forms and figures, sometimes explicitly, sometimes couched in abstraction. Their work is about aesthetic value: composition, balance, dynamism, color, expression, often imbued with, or evocative of, human emotion.

But some artists use their pictures as a language that describes something unrelated to pure aesthetics.

The art is put in the service of cultural or political commentary.

Two such artists, both rebels in their distinctive ways, will be presented by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art from May 22-July 12 in what is certain to be remembered as one of the most significant shows the venue has organized.

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When graffiti artist Shepard Fairey turned his talents to US politics, his reward was international acclaim and a letter of thanks from Barack Obama. When he employed a similar tactic in Denmark, however, the response proved altogether less edifying.

Last weekend, Fairey – creator of the famous "Hope" poster that came to encapsulate Obama's 2008 presidential campaign – was beaten up after the opening of his exhibition at a Copenhagen gallery.

Earlier this month he was involved with a controversial mural that has enraged leftwing anarchists throughout the city.

"I have a black eye and a bruised rib," Fairey told the Guardian.

According to reports, 41-year-old Fairey and his colleague Romeo Trinidad were punched and kicked by at least two men outside the Kodboderne 18 nightclub in the early hours of last Saturday morning. Fairey claims the men called him "Obama illuminati" and ordered him to "go back to America".

The LA-based artist believes the attack was sparked by a misunderstanding over his mural commemorating the demolition of the legendary "Ungdomshuset" (youth house) at Jagtvej 69. The building, a long-term base for Copenhagen's leftwing community, was controversially demolished in 2007. In the intervening years it has become a potent symbol of the standoff between the establishment in Copenhagen and its radical fringe.

Fairey's installation, painted on a building adjacent to the vacant site, depicted a dove in flight above the word "peace" and the figure "69". But the mural appeared to reopen old wounds, with critics accusing Fairey of peddling government-funded propaganda.

"The city council is using the painting – directly or indirectly – to decorate the crater-like lot at Jagtvej 69," said local activist Eskil Andreas Halberg in a letter to Modkraft, a leftwing news website. "The art is being used politically to end the conflict in a certain way: 'we're all friends now, right?'"

Within a day of completion, the mural was vandalised by protesters, with graffiti sending messages of "no peace" and "go home, Yankee hipster". Fairey subsequently collaborated with former members of the 69 youth house to redecorate the lower half of the installation. His new version contains images of riot police and explosions, together with a new, more combative slogan: "Nothing forgotten, nothing forgiven".

Fairey explained that the original mural was organised by his Copenhagen gallery, V1, and was never intended as propaganda. "The media reported that it was commissioned by the city, which wasn't true," he told the Guardian.

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