Spotted this “Obey” work on Pine Street in Seattle, Washington, yesterday, while walking to The Paramount Theater with my younger daughter. I don’t know if it’s a REAL Shepard Fairey work or not, but it looks like it to me! (Although it might just be an Obey poster someone bought and taped to the wall…)
If it IS an actual Shepard Fairey piece, it’s pretty damn sad how many people have scribbled on it and stuck stickers all over the thing! However, I actually DO like the look overall, even with the “modifications…” The florescent pink on the lip area and the green on Andre’s forehead work for me, and the symmetrical placement of those weird “What is God?” stickers under the eyes and such is well balanced. I like it—unless it was an actual Shepard Fairey work, and then it’s just sad that it was defaced…
But does it MATTER, really, who put the piece up? Is the ART of the work—what makes it ART—in the visual impact of the piece (the Andre the Giant / Obey image WAS designed by Fairey), or does the value change, does it increase, based on who put the piece up??? (It’s the original vs forgery argument: if two paintings are virtually identical, why is one worth thousands of dollars while the other is worthless?) Artistic value, in an economic sense, depends on the STORY, the BIOGRAPHY of the creator, and the CONSENSUS of the culture…
But I’m poor. I’ll never own an autheticated Banksy or Shepard Fairey or Basquiat work—but I can still enjoy seeing the images…regardless of who puts them up… I honestly value these types of images for their aesthetic qualities. (The Andre image has those sad eyes, the bold and thick lines, and the stylized shadows that almost look like KISS make-up! Brilliant symplification and stylization…)
There was also a delightfully scrawled snake on a light post by an unknown, anonymous artist that I WISH I’d gotten a photo of, but the line Ellie and I were waiting in was moving too quickly for me to get my phone out and snap a picture before we passed the image by… Too bad. That was a good one!
Anyway, do you have any thoughts on the value of art as visual image vs biography of the artist and/or the price-tag associated with an individual work??? Leave a comment below (and I’ll be happy to argue about it with you…)
—Richard F. Yates (Holy Fool)