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May Day Mural Retouched

- luna park - Sunday, May 16th, 2010 : goo

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As soon as Shepard Fairey's "May Day" mural at the corner of Houston and the Bowery was installed to advertise for his show at NYC's Deitch Projects, it immediately became a magnet for the city's taggers and bombers to leave some very high profile marks. While smaller tags seem to have been buffed away, Adek, Jade, Fuct, and Refry's coordinated effort should be a bit more difficult to wipe away.

This article has been viewed 48182 times in the last 5 years

gukeums1: That's so meta.

EM: 17th May 2010 - 15:37 GMT

At first, I was like "Ugh. Graffiti". Then, after reading the text and realizing that this was a mural installed to advertise Shepard Fairey's upcoming show, I kind of feel like this is fair game.

Rintoul: 17th May 2010 - 16:19 GMT

It is fair game because whose jock is better to ride than a guy putting in work for 20 years?

Shield for Your Eyes: 17th May 2010 - 16:24 GMT


I like Shepard Fairey's work, I've liked it since he was actually underground, defacing billboards here in Providence. But... live by the sword, die by the sword. (This reminds me of Metallica turning on file sharing after they got their start because of tape-trading among fans.)

Positive Attitude: 17th May 2010 - 16:25 GMT

This is what graffiti is all about, there aren't any rules

Wyatt: 17th May 2010 - 16:43 GMT

Here is a good interview with Fairey on Grittv from this week:

Krumb: 17th May 2010 - 17:14 GMT

Even with all that back story irony, i think it's lame. If you're going to ruin something, ruin it by making it better.

Also, I'm tired of tagging. It was cool back in the day but now i feel like it's played out.

Write something political, funny or crass. Please. Anything but your name1.

Nubbinator: 17th May 2010 - 17:15 GMT

He's one of those artists who I have no respect for at all. He steals art from better artists than he and claims it as his own. The defacing couldn't have happened to a better person.

That said, I wish it was a piece rather than just a throw up.

tool: 17th May 2010 - 17:16 GMT

FRANK fairey a tool of the corporate power and the democrats. money money money. it's not art, it's advertisement!

killa mc bills: 17th May 2010 - 17:20 GMT

thanks for this. if any of you want to read an awesome, albeit long, article about graf artists 'vandalizing' other graf artists:

beta_vulgaris: 17th May 2010 - 17:22 GMT

@Nubbinator: He's using iconic imagery in his own art. Is that stealing? There's a lot of precedence for this kind of art appropriation and he does transform the images to fit in line with his own Obey Giant art campaign.

I don't personally like his art because I feel the images he uses are way too obvious and often over-used (which he claims was his intent, but I don't buy into it) to make the exact same message that the image already had attached to it. He is, however, an incredible designer. The background designs in a Shephard Fairey piece are always the highlight.

Hm: 17th May 2010 - 17:55 GMT

Am i the only one who can't read that graffiti writing? It just looks like bubbles to me..

ifiwasntintherapgame: 17th May 2010 - 17:57 GMT

Ha! I'm disgusted too! I saw that wall before Fairey put up his bullshit, and it was beautiful! Just a plain white wall, without all this creative expression all over it! Blech! Before you mentioned the "2 minute bubble letter slop," I didn't even notice it, I thought there was an effort underway to paint over all this silk-screened-in-the-safety-of-a-studio-and-then-wheat-pasted-in-broad-daylight-crap.

But for serious, I would suggest going out and attempting some of this 2 minute bubble letter slop before bashing it. I respect the taggers more than Fairey as they risked their butts to do this, where as Fairey got paid and sold t-shirts off it.

ifiwasntintherapgame: 17th May 2010 - 17:59 GMT

Also -- since the Obama thing, Fairey is fair game for all graff writers, especially when his art is an advertisement for his shows. There's nothing wrong with any of this.

Soylent Veal: 17th May 2010 - 18:01 GMT

Fairey "steals" art as much as Daft Punk "steals" from other musical artists.

Personally I would prefer it if he revealed sources but when it comes down to it he's part of the remix culture and by the time he's finished his work tends (admittedly not always) to be substantially changed from the originals.

Nubbinator: 17th May 2010 - 18:07 GMT

There's a difference between using iconic imagery to make a statement and claiming iconic imagery as your own while making small changes to it. If you are going to take iconic imagery, you should be changing it and making a statement with it. All he does is go, oh, that looks cool, kids like revolutionary shit, I can sell this. Furthermore, for it to be truly iconic art, we must all know what he is referencing. Much of his art he steals is obscure and he knows everyone will misattribute it to him. It is one thing to lift techniques from artists (like Picasso). It is another to blatantly steal their work.

One of the things that pissed me off was how he sold work with other people's art on it, claiming it as his own because he changed the colors.

Look at other artists who steal work and ask why they get away with it. Banksy steals works, but adds something to them, changing them dramatically. For example, his Hopper piece with the drunk Brit is dynamically different than the original, while making a comment about the state of things. Fairey, on the other hand, takes the imagery and may add other elements to it, but leaves the message and the majority of the image unchanged.

Nubbinator: 17th May 2010 - 18:13 GMT

And I consider sampling theft from other artists if they do not heavily modify or change the music.

I will give you some of his work is substantially changed from the original, but most that I have seen is not substantively or substantially different. He takes iconic or powerful images, sometimes changes them, and then slaps words on it. To me, that is not art. Sticking with the music example, he is like Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" to Queen's "Unde Pressure".

ifatree: 17th May 2010 - 22:38 GMT

adek was "there first", but honestly if you can't put up better pieces than that, you're not really as "on top" as you may think. i think the term is "lurk moar".

HEKTAD: 18th May 2010 - 20:54 GMT


Soylent Veal: 19th May 2010 - 02:08 GMT

I concede your point to a degree, I just think our opinions differ as to where we draw the line. I tend to draw the line holistically, taking into account medium change as well as additions to the work, artistic intentions, and "feel" of the final piece.

You seem to draw the line much more strictly (though still understandable) with visual similarity.

Both points are equally valid depending on what you value artistically. I'm guessing that you also have strong opinions about Roy Lichtenstein too ;)

Nubbinator: 19th May 2010 - 05:00 GMT

I tend to try to incorporate those elements too, we just have different interpretations as to where the line is drawn.

I guess I just favor the element of originality more. I've been researching the royal academies of late for my Master's, and one of the things that stood out to me with the British Royal Academy is the notion that copying art is not art, even when you make your own additions. Instead art is taking those foundations from those works you copied and adding new styles and techniques to those that you learned, creating something new with it.

There are some areas where I make exceptions with visual similarity. For example, Chuck Close. His lithographs tend to be from photos that others have taken, but he is brilliant with the media change and making some photo-real lithos. The things is that most of Fairey's works draw upon silk-screened images that he then silkscreens or prints. It's not really a medium change.

I don't care for Lichtenstein, but I will concede the importance he played in the pop art movement.

Now, if you want to talk awesome street art, check out Conor Harrington.

Soylent Veal: 19th May 2010 - 05:38 GMT

Congrats on working on your masters, I just graduated this month with my BA with the eventual hope of towards a masters as well. Conor Harrington is a great artist, I also like Faith47, if you haven't checked that work out yet. Harrington's blend of realism and chaotic abstraction is a growing trend I've noticed and really enjoy.

Its fascinating how derivative works have come in and out of style in the history of art for certain. I love the drama that went on between Rafael and Michelangelo.

I'm actually with you on Lichtenstein and value originality as well when it comes to my personal tastes. If it comes down to two equally technically capable and visually interesting artists, I'd pick the one that doesn't sample as the better artist. When it comes to Daft Punk and Fairey though, both of them don't have equals in their style and thus could be considered "conceptually original" even if they're sampling other sources heavily. It is the same reason why I value Duchamp's "The Fountain" even though, as a whole, I loath the ready-made movement.

Nubbinator: 19th May 2010 - 20:52 GMT

I'm actually doing my Master's in sociology, but focusing on art. I just looked up Faith47, some interesting stuff. My current favorites are C215 and Conor Harrington.

I still wonder about Duchamp. Sometimes I think he was a post-modern prankster who just wanted to fuck with people in the art wold. His "art" could not really be considered it, but I love how he forced so many to question things. Would I ever want a Duchamp? No, it's boring as hell and not really artistic, it was the philosophy behind his work that's interesting. I'm with you in that dislike for the ready-made movement, except in those rare cases where they force you to think.

theone: 21st May 2010 - 18:48 GMT

he went over Adek doing this wall, he atleast could expect this

anon ( clean ass bombing

AsPeK 1: clean azz bombing

Sergeant D: 27th May 2010 - 19:19 GMT

"It is fair game because whose jock is better to ride than a guy putting in work for 20 years?"

1. Adek has been writing for close to 20 years
2. BTM/3A have been destroying shit since 1991 and I'm sure Fairey knows the score

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