First I was all hot to write about this thing with Shephard Fairey and the Barack Obama poster, and it's historical value or possible historical value but then I thought no, it's a bit early, but then what if someone else writes about it? Then I would be tearing my hair out over not getting my ass in gear and just doing it. So, even though I don't have true posterity to back it up I’ll just blurt it out; Shephard Fairey is the first 21st century artist to create The Big Picture. Big fat deal now because now Shephard's on the Colbert Report and every other hoe media show including _ _ _. I won't say it in case I get a chance to whore it up there.
It’s been right in front of my face for almost a year but it only dawned on me recently. Since I live in New York, it’s been in front of everyone’s face for what seems like a long time. Not as long as the Obama/Biden Platform for the Arts has been around, because I remember reading it and thinking, Reinvest in Arts Education, Tax Fairness for Artists, Art Corps, Healthcare, OMG! I have never read or heard from a politician that had such a strong position on art as a fundamental. I’ve also noticed that most people do not read political platforms because they resemble boring legal documents instead of a fat shopping list. (I’m most people)
When is the last time we had a really famous, humongously popular artwork that a good chunk of the western world has seen and recognized as well as the Happy Face? There's Che Guevara, the mostly misunderstood popular puss on a t-shirt of all time, but monster hot all the same. Back in the day (the 60's) the educated lefties may have known the source photographer of that rebel hunk Che, Alberto Korda. In 20th century America we've had few very popular crossover art works created by artists; Robert Indiana's 1964 LOVE Christmas card graphic for MoMA, that by 1973 had shrunk to a best selling postage stamp, in 1976 bulked up into a huge public sculpture, and now it's a coffee cup. I'd like to forget Peter Max because he sucks. Andy Warhol painted the already universal Campbell Soup Tomato Can but it could be argued that he really deified America's Greatest Tomato, Marilyn Monroe. R. Crumb's 'Keep on Trucking' is (or was) a crossover hit and notable because of Crumb's artist cred. The 1991 Visual Aids Red Ribbon was invented by Visual Aids Artist's Caucus and it didn't take long for that simple lapel loop to change colors, meaning, and political affiliations. My criteria is simple, the picture has to be cool enough to be a t-shirt worn by people, say, in rural Mozambique, and musicians don't count.
Part 1 of The Big Picture