for over three decades, american artist shepard fairey has been challenging the establishment through the creation and dissemination of iconic imagery with resounding impact. the power of shepard’s art is in the combination of the compelling narratives inherent in the pictures he creates and his ability to adapt to a continuously changing society. he has established a long-standing career as a master storyteller who uses images to help us navigate the complicated world we inhabit.
thematically, his exhibition at dallas contemporary – the artist’s first-ever solo museum exhibition in texas – highlights the evolution of fairey’s career from the confrontational D.I.Y. style of defiant youth to a narrative of hope, equality and shared humanity. in terms of material, shepard’s medium of choice for public art changed in 2010 from modular wheat pasted paper murals to more durable painted murals – several of which were commissioned by dallas contemporary and on view at the museum and around the city in 2012. fairey returns to dallas this fall with an exhibition featuring new and recent works highlighting important transitions in his career. some of his most iconic visuals and repeated motifs will be on display that comment on the state of contemporary life in the united states, as well as texas.
“my exhibition backward forward addresses many crucial issues facing america and the planet at large. the work takes many approaches aesthetically and conceptually but consistently asks the questions – ‘are we moving forward or backward?’ and ‘what do we want the future to look like?” said shepard fairey. “i’m excited to share this body of work at dallas contemporary because i think the venue and the institution’s vision provide me with a powerful opportunity to share my art. i also think that dallas is a vibrant cosmopolitan city that represents a diverse group of cultures and political ideas, which is ideal for a robust social, political, and creative conversation.”
“shepard’s artworks help us to see and understand the complicated world that we live in. his constant presence in the public realm questions hierarchies of power and celebrates our shared humanity, which has had a profound influence on how we see ourselves and others,” said pedro alonzo, adjunct curator at dallas contemporary and long-time fairey collaborator. he remains rooted to his core values of what we now call social justice while having adapted to major changes such as social media and society’s embrace of street art, which was once considered a form of vandalism.”
shepard fairey was born in charleston, south carolina. he received his bachelor of fine arts in illustration at the rhode island school of design in providence, rhode island. in 1989, he created the andre the giant has a posse sticker that transformed into the OBEY GIANT art campaign, with imagery that has changed the way people see art and the urban landscape. after more than 30 years, his work has evolved into an acclaimed body of art, including the 2008 hope portrait of barack obama, found at the smithsonian’s national portrait gallery. in 2017, the artist collaborated with amplifier to create the we the people series, which was recognizable during the women’s marches and other rallies worldwide in defense of national and global social justice issues.
shepard fairey has painted more than 110 large-scale murals across six continents worldwide. his stickers, guerilla street art presence and public murals are known across the globe. his works are in the permanent collections of the boston institute of contemporary art, museum of modern art (MoMA), the museum of fine arts boston, the san francisco museum of modern art, the smithsonian’s national portrait gallery, the victoria and albert museum and many others.
shepard fairey: backward forward is made possible with lead support from east quarter and the generous support of saks fifth avenue and rodger kobes + michael keller.