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Shepard Fairey’s “May Day” (opening 5.1) will be the final show at Deitch Projects — as Deitch is taking over as director of LA MOCA


stills taken from “They Live” starring “Rowdy” Roddy Piper…


What else is there to add to the volume of words dedicated to the art, commerce, and character of iconic American artist, Shepard Fairey? People remember where they saw their first Andre the Giant sticker, some of us more than 20 years ago; and certainly the dust-up over the Obama poster can’t have escaped anyone’s notice.

What is worth noting about Fairey’s work is the balance he has struck over the years between challenging himself and expanding his horizons as an individual artist, while keeping the world’s most recognizable style-and-brand empire in business. Now the juicy art/commerce, rebel/royalty cage match gets even more meta, as Fairey opens a new body of work on the salient theme of May Day, at the imminently closing Wooster Street Deitch Projects.Fairey will be the first to tell you — his game-changing visuals are as much about commerce as they are about art.


Piper with Andre…

Years before the kerfuffle over the authorship and/or originality of his iconic Obama poster, Fairey was incurring the wrath of fine-art traditionalists and social progressives alike for his brazen fusion of progressive social politics and a desire to make a living. How could pictures inspired by Communist history that purport to ignite the free exchange of ideas be sold for money? How could a street artist still claim populist cred once he’s been in a museum? How can printed posters and sticker-tossing street teams ever be real art? Answering his critics with both inspired words and high-profile deeds, Fairey labors on and in true OBEY style, he’s opening up a pop-up shop downtown. Whether it’s a cynical commercial opportunism, or a god-send to east coast fans who can’t afford to shop at Deitch, is entirely a matter of opinion.

(FLAVORPILL  4.27.10)

more on Shepard’s battle with the AP —  and make sure to check out the new mural on Houston painted on the site of Keith Haring’s ’80s piece…

THEY LIVE” 1988 directed by John Carpenter


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