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Unfair portrayal of art

October 27, 2009

Re "Fairey's true colors," Opinion, Oct. 25

After all is said and done, there's really nothing left to do but discover the means by which to reinvent, refresh and revive our modes of creative expression -- making the tried-and-true new again. Indeed, this is the very definition of the term "postmodern." And Shepard Fairey is nothing if not a postmodern artist: He takes a known quantity and tweaks it so that it remains the same while being simultaneously and significantly distinct.

Charlotte Allen admits that "analogizing Fairey to Roman Polanski is probably unfair." Nonetheless, she does not hesitate to make that comparison.

It's equally unfair to draw a parallel between Allen and the book burners of eras past.

Still, the common denominators of reaction and intolerance are evident in both instances.

Ben Miles

Huntington Beach

The writer is a faculty member at the Art Institute of California in Orange County.


Thanks to Allen for showing exactly why her politics have run away with her good judgment.

If Fairey "virtually traced" the Associated Press freelancer's picture of Barack Obama, then the thing Fairey should argue is, "So what?"

Does the AP own the angle of the picture?

Does the AP own Obama's face?

I suggest Allen review the history of art in the 20th century. I suggest the AP use common decency and withdraw its suit.

To reprint without permission is what the AP can complain about and charge damages for. To assert some kind of ownership rights over Obama's face is flatly ridiculous.

However, Fairey should not have lied. I expect the court to punish him over that, which is only right.

Jim Hassinger



The mission of the media has been, from the start, to discredit any notion that Fairey is an artist.

The "Hope" image, they'll tell you, is not art because it was created by "essentially tracing over a close-up photograph of Obama taken by an AP contract photographer." Fairey is a thief and con artist akin to ... Roman Polanski. Got it.

If the Hope image isn't any different from the original photograph, if the work has simply been stolen, then why hasn't the original photograph become as iconic as Fairey's version?

Did anyone see bumper stickers made from AP contract photographer Mannie Garcia's photo?

Fairey either made something different from the original or he didn't -- it can't be both.

Keith Ceely

Los Angeles


Allen's mean assessment of Fairey is missing one thing: an acknowledgment of the beauty and power of his work.

Allen should know that the history of painting is the history of artists blatantly "stealing" from each other. There are a thousand examples of this creative re-production -- literally: re-imagination -- of other people's designs; they fill our art museums everywhere.

Fairey may have committed a crime according to the curious logic of contemporary notions of artistic property. The unmistakable fact is this: Fairey's Hope-Obama poster is an astounding, unforgettable image.

He -- and no one else -- created it. Its impact is both aesthetic and historical.

People will see and talk about it forever because it is real art.

Leon Garcia Garagarza

Los Angeles

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