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Artist's Obama poster spawns wave of parodies

October 09, 2008|Kate Linthicum

Politics and art. Both are sometimes about appropriation.

Artists borrow the style -- and sometimes the imagery -- of other artists. Politicians recycle themes, slogans and even attack lines ("flip-flop," anyone?) from other politicians.

So it didn't surprise Shepard Fairey, the Los Angeles street artist whose "Hope" poster of Barack Obama thrust him into the political spotlight, when he learned his work had been remade.

In fact, spoofs have proliferated. One, an anti-Obama poster spotted at the Republican National Convention, is nearly identical to Fairey's version, except "Hope" has been replaced by "Hype."


But the left has hit back with its own revisions. One features Sarah Palin, depicted in Fairey's signature red, white and blue, with the word "Nope." A similar version has been made of John McCain.

What does the auteur himself think of this pilfering of his work? He says it's proof of his original image's power.

"When something becomes pervasive enough, it becomes a reference point that people are going to use for commentary and parody," Fairey said. "They build their own thing off of it and use it for their own agenda."

Fairey was unimpressed with both sides' alterations. They're too negative, he says. "It all just cancels each other out."

-- Kate Linthicum

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