Shepard Fairey - Multiples

June 13, 2023

Mayberry Fine Art is proud to present an exhibition of screen prints by the acclaimed contemporary Street Artist Shepard Fairey at our downtown Winnipeg location. In this article, Mayberry Fine Art explores the origins, influences and style of the artist.

See Shepard Fairey: Multiples until the 23rd of June, 2023.

Cut It Up

The Cut It Up – Do It Yourself (2018)


Screen print, 24 x 18 in

Mayberry Fine art is proud to present a selection of lithographs covering a broad range of Shepard Fairey's extensive body of work. Born in 1970, Shepard Fairey is a widely known and acclaimed contemporary artist and graphic designer. His work is known for its paired down, punchy aesthetic. Often political, Fairey's work intends to provoke conversation, change minds and educate. By 2008, his now iconic "Hope" poster featuring Barack Obama spoke to an excitement for America's future and launched Fairey's career to previously unforeseen heights. His art practice encompasses lithography, vinyl stickers, murals and multiple business ventures that have made him notorious in the Fine Art, Street Art and Style worlds alike.

Shepard Fairey realised the disruptive power of Street Art in his salad days working at The Watershed Skate Shop alongside his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. There, the iconic stencil of "Andre The Giant Has A Posse" was born. It would later evolve into his well known "OBEY GIANT" slogan and went on to be infamously plastered around New Jersey. As his career progressed, Fairey incorporated lithographs, murals and apparel into his practice.

Fairey delights in the confusion his guerrilla street art causes and believes it an exercise in “phenomenology”, which is to say the "meaning" of the sticker manifests itself within the viewer and reveals more about themselves than it does the artist’s intentions (Fairey, 1990). When confronted with these stickers, the artist wishes for the viewer to embrace what arises for them (Fairey, 1990). Be it laughter, confusion, intrigue or anger, these disruptions try to “stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings” (Fairey, 1990).

His interest in contemporary pop culture and politics is evident in his work. Fairey's lithographs, like Ukiyo-e prints from the Japanese Edo period, celebrate entertainers, everyday life and counterculture. He alludes to 20th century Soviet Realism and Pop Art in his work, frequently citing Barbara Kruger's immense influence on his own style. A comparison to Alphonse Mucha seems warranted both in style and reception. Around the turn of the 20th century, people from all walks of life took to the streets of Paris at night with razors, pilfering Mucha's Art Nouveau posters by lamplight. Even today, this practice endures with the public reception of Fairey's work.

Screenshot 2023 06 13 At 1033 42 Am

Source: Damian Dovarganes/AP Images

Prints were a democratized and accessible form of art that grew in popularity around the world from the 19th century onwards. It is perhaps the transience of these pieces that may explain the medium's popularity. Rather than becoming weathered, a poster or lithograph in a gallery is preserved, transcending the supposition of ephemerality. Once thought to be resigned to streetwear, "drops" of limited release prints are still highly sought after. Indeed, if the 20th and 21st centuries have taught us anything, it is that what art is and is not blurs by the second. Fairey seeks to challenge public apathy towards our surroundings and politics with punchy prints and stickers plastered across cities, which has not been without pushback from certain members of the public and legal authorities. His background in graphic design has ensured his work, though at times polarizing, reaches public consciousness and creates conversations. His work has been embraced by celebrities, skaters and the art world, with no telling what he will do next.

See Shepard Fairey: Multiples from June 2-23rd at Mayberry Fine Art, Winnipeg.