Buttle's World

9 February, 2009

Con Artist

Filed under: Posts — Tags: — clgood @ 21:27

During the campaign I blogged about those Stalinist-style Obama posters. Now it turns out that the artist not only lifted the visual style from the Soviet Union, but stole the base image from the Associated (with terrorists) Press.

Shepard Fairey last week was sued for copyright infringement by the Associated Press, which claims he stole photographer Manny Garcia’s work and made it the basis of the iconic off-red, white and blue posters whose signed editions are being sold on eBay for thousands of dollars.

If found guilty — a liberal application of “fair use” law could protect Mr. Fairey — we have a case of the white man stealing from an ethnic minority in order to turn a quick profit. (I thought an Obama presidency would automatically end such practices.)

Chinese, Latin American and former Soviet Communist artists may also have a claim against Mr. Fairey, whose style is brazenly ripped off from the propaganda campaigns of totalitarian states. If regimes that murdered tens of millions of innocent human beings can be so revered and redeemed, can the swastika be reappropriated, too?

Update:

The hack (I won’t call him an artist) in question turns out to also be a common vandal. You can try to dress it up with names like “tagging”, but vandalism is vandalism.

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3 Comments »

  1. This issue is contextual and wildly subjective. It’s my opinion that if this case goes to court Fairey will walk.

    Here’s an interesting take via Boing Boing:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2009/02/09/milton-glaser-weighs.html

    And so what if Fairey’s style is derivative of Russian revolutionary propaganda.

    Your guilt by association argument doesn’t make it true. Call Obama a Marxist all you like, he’s a Democrat (which in my opinion is worse. Hell, at least Marxists “stand” for something).

    “If regimes that murdered tens of millions of innocent human beings can be so revered and redeemed, can the swastika be reappropriated, too?”
    Simple answer. It sure can. It sure fing can.

    Comment by bob — 9 February, 2009 @ 23:34

    • The “so what” is that it makes The Messiah’s droids look like vacuous sycophants. Honestly, people who found that poster “inspiring” like that commenter on boingboing are just howlingly funny. It kind of defines “useful idiot”. As far as the lawsuit goes, it’s tempting to plead a Kissinger: “It’s a shame they can’t both lose.” But, on balance, I’d come down on the side of the photographer. What a jury will decide is a coin toss.

      I like that notion of a Democrat being worse than a Marxist. Har!

      Comment by buttle — 10 February, 2009 @ 6:59

  2. I dont know…I for one have no problem playing with the context of established imagery.

    Although I do find our countries infatuation with “brands” quite troubling. And for all his political savvy I think all Obama really did was to neatly package a response to 8 years of bungled “leadership”. Fairys poster was iconic the same way the Nike Swish is iconic. It’s really nothing more.

    And time will tell concerning this impending case. Their is a rich history of “appropriated” works that have stood the test of time (Rauschenberg, Warhol, Hip Hop/sampling) and I expect the AP will have to prove Fairys intent to profit.

    “I like that notion of a Democrat being worse than a Marxist. Har!”

    Well, I’d say the Republicans are worse than Marxists for the very same reason, heck they may even be worse than Trotskites. Ha!

    Until the Republican party frees itself from the shackles of social conservative/relgious idiocy..well, they remain hopelessly bankrupt in creditability.

    At least in my book.

    Comment by bob — 10 February, 2009 @ 17:16


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