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With his Obama portrait, an outsider artist has found greater recognition from the mainstream — but is that a good thing?
When the National Portrait Gallery announced last week that it was acquiring Shepard Fairey’s iconic image of Barack Obama, it marked a curious development for the Los Angeles-based artist, previously known for his ubiquitous Andre the Giant stickers, as well as high-style agitprop poster art.Fairey’s been around for a long time, but he’s always operated below the mainstream radar; his work has adorned album covers and alternative weeklies, and it has been plastered on walls and billboards all over L.A.
With the Obama portrait, however, he has moved into the center of the culture, providing a graphic as instantly recognizable as the president-elect himself. What happens when an underground artist suddenly comes to occupy such a position? Fairey is about to find out. Read the entire article