January 11, 2009

Guerrilla artist’s Obama poster in museum

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington has acquired an image of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama created by an artist with a long police record.

Shepard Fairey's portrait of Obama became one of the most common images of the candidate during the 2008 presidential campaign and led to Fairey's being named Icon Maker of the year by Time magazine. The portrait is a mixed-media collage that ended up on T-shirts and hats along with posters and magazine covers, the British newspaper The Independent said.

We all fell in love with it, said Carolyn Kinder Carr, the curator of the portrait gallery. We always like portraits that reflect a particular moment in history, and we like the fact that it is an image that resides in popular culture.

Fairey, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, founded a studio specializing in guerrilla marketing and was best known until recently for his rock album covers -- including covers for Black Eyed Peas and Led Zeppelin. He has been arrested 14 times -- most recently during the Democratic Convention in Denver when he and some colleagues got picked up when their postering took them into what he called a hot zone of high security.