Shepard Fairey’s iconic Obama image inspires “a thrill of concerted purpose,” writes Peter Schjeldahl in the New Yorker, but the same can't be said for the rest of Fairey’s work, on exhibition in Boston. While the Obama poster made something new and vibrant, writes Schjeldahl, Fairey tends to traffic in the old and eventually tiresome.
Sure, he’s a “terrific designer,” but Fairey’s outcomes are the reverse of obvious forbear Andy Warhol. He produces “pop masquerading as art, as opposed to art masquerading as pop.” The result reads “as if Fairey meant to ridicule rebellion.” And while the show's catalogue explains that Fairey aims "to challenge the status quo,” explains Schjeldahl, "what isn’t status quo about political rage? And have you met anyone not heavily medicated who strikes you as complacent lately? The retrospective is dated on arrival."