Oct 31, 2009

Shepard Fairey at the Warhol Museum

The top floor of the Warhol is gorgeously hung with Search & Destroy, the Shepard Fairey retrospective. Walls glow with the red, black and yellowed white of his strongest work-- from screen-printed posters to mixed media collages, stencils and combinations of all three, creating a swirl of ironic emotions (mocking and sincere, logical and incongruous) as one glides through the galleries.

His jabs at culture, politics and iconography, all assembled in the same place for the first time by this traveling exhibit (originating at Boston's ICA; next stop, Cincinnati; cities after that TBD,) pack a visceral punch that I wasn't expecting and there's a power in numbers here that I never realized before.

The lower floor of the exhibit, however, centered around the now over-exposed Obama Hope poster, didn't continue the momentum for me and I walked through it at a steady clip searching for the sustained jolt of the top floor. The super-sized mural was overkill. Badly lit, sagging and shiny (unlike the matte of the screen prints), it was the last piece I looked at and by then the party was over and I was hungry for art again.

The guy in the gift shop tried to sell me one of the limited edition Search & Destroy prints for $45 ("They're selling on Ebay for $170") but for me the appropriate memento was a small metal button, for $1.40, with an image of Andy on it. Around the edge in small white lettering it read, "Your fifteen minutes are up."