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Steven Heller Defends Shepard Fairey Using History as His Guide


While this writer was away from any and all computers for a few days there, he was fairly sure that doing so would give everyone plenty of time to take a deep breath from all the recent coverage of the Associated Press vs. Shepard Fairey battle. Fortunately, not only does that seem to be the case, but we returned to find that our old pal Steven Heller had penned a great essay for the NY Times putting Fairey’s copyright borrowing/theft (depending on the side you’ve picked) into historical perspective. Even if you hate Fairey and particularly dislikes how much of others’ work he tends to put into his own pieces, it’s a great read for looking at his work from a much further distance than “hey, that looks like that other thing” which we’re all often guilty of from time to time. We particularly enjoyed this section, which seems to almost explain Fairey in full in just a few short lines:

Comparisons have been made between Fairey and Andy Warhol‘s transfiguration of the Brillo Box into an evocation of pop culture; he is also linked to the skateboarder practice of ripping off and then satirically twisting mainstream corporate logos and brands by altering a name or symbol. His sensibility is perhaps even more reminiscent of the old Mad magazine advertising parodies and their derivative, Wacky Packs, which send up mainstream products by co-opting and changing their names.

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