The Smithsonian Acquires Barack Obama's Image
Fairey's "Hope" portrait, which, rather like Alberto Korda's heroic photograph of Che Guevara, depicts the President-Elect as gazing above the viewer, as though fixed on some futuristic victory.
The Fairey's Obama poster became one of the most memorable images from the 2008 Presidential election. Mr. Fairey's collage appeared on thousands of stickers, posters, and T-shirts across the country.
Shepard Fairey’s ubiquitous illustration of Barack Obama, seen in rallies, parties, shop windows and construction sites throughout the 2008 election season, has found a home. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. announced that it had acquired Mr. Fairey’s work for its collection.
The timing of the Smithsonian acquisition is extraordinary in that portraits of presidents normally go into the collection as they are about to leave office. For example, a portrait of President George W. Bush was unveiled at the gallery in December, 2008. The Smithsonian has stated that when Mr. Obama leaves office, his official portrait will be added at that time.
Gallery officials would not reveal how much they paid Mr. Fairey for the five-foot tall, mixed-media stenciled collage. According to the New York Times, art collectors Heather and Tony Podesta of Washington donated money for the Smithsonian to purchase the work.
The curators at the Smithsonian Institution museum plan to hang it for public viewing by Inauguration Day.
Martin E. Sullivan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said the Obama poster was “an emblem of a significant election, as well as a new presidency.”
Mr. Fairey, a Los Angeles artist known for rock-music album covers and a sticker campaign featuring the wrestler Andre the Giant
It might interest readers that the Time magazine had commissioned Mr. Fairey to create a similar image of Obama for its Person of the Year cover. This writer has previously posted a piece on Barack Obama, Person of the Year.
The image, with its subdued red, white and blue coloring, recently graced Time's cover portraying Barack Obama as the magazine's Person of the Year.
Mr. Fairey's works can be seen in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC2009) also unveiled another limited edition prints and posters created by Shepard Fairey to be sold on its website. Most will sell for $100, but the 1,000 prints signed by the artist are priced at $500. The proceeds will help fund official inaugural events.
Additional Inauguration-related articles by this writer:
- Presidential Inauguration 2009 Schedule and National Security
- Techno-Access to Presidential Inauguration 2009
- The Commander-in-Chief's Inaugural Ball
- National Mall Welcomes the Public
- Unofficial Presidential Inaugural Balls
- The First Interview after the Election