AUCTION DEDICATED TO WORLD-RENOWNED CREATOR WHO’S SHAKEN UP THE ART WORLD
Shepard Fairey is one of the world’s most influential pop artists, with his name often appearing alongside legends such as Keith Haring, Banksy and Andy Warhol.
The artist initially gained fame for his “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” campaign, in which he used an image of the wrestler in stickers, street art and a clothing line that evolved into the Obey brand. He gained more attention with his 2008 “Hope” poster of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. Today, Fairey’s work has been featured in the collections of institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Heritage Auctions’ upcoming In Focus: Obey Showcase Auction will feature more than 50 pieces by the world-renowned artist. We asked Walter A. Ramirez, associate specialist in Heritage Auctions’ Urban Art department, to tell us why Fairey remains so popular with collectors.
What sets Shepard Fairey apart from other modern artists today?
Stylistically aside, what sets Shepard Fairey apart from other contemporary artist is his work ethic. The amount of work he does throughout the year is insane. He is constantly travelling, painting, working with charities and running his studio. It’s amazing he has not slowed down to this day. Now stylistically, he is set apart, of course, as his style is instantly recognizable and distinguished from the rest. Now though, he has inspired a large wave of artists who do take after him but one can always tell a Shepard Fairey apart from the rest.
What medium is Fairey best known for?
Shepard Fairey is internationally known for two mediums. The first one being his large-scale murals and the second being his screen-prints. When it comes to his large-scale murals, they are a sight to see. If you happen to be in a city that has one (or more, in most metropolises) you will be in awe and you’ll hurt your neck trying to look up from the street. Now, his screen-prints have been a staple in the Obey world. He has been publishing his own prints since the ’90s and now it is for him a large-scale operation. His releases are frequent, with them usually having a run of 300 to 1,000 in an edition. Although there is a plethora of prints out there, the demand for them is still high, which can be seen if you ever try to get one at the drop. Within seconds, all of them have been snatched and they start making their way to the secondary markets for 200% to 1,000% profit.
Are there specific categories of collectors that acquire Fairey pieces or is he a favorite across the collecting spectrum?
Fairey is one of the few artists who appeal to all types of collectors. His range in material ranges from punk rock bands from the ’80s to sports legends to major art figures that inspired him. This also gives him the range to work in different mediums. He has done original canvas and collage works, screen-print as mentioned before, skate decks, vinyl figures, clothing and many more. Whether the message is political or an homage to someone, Shepard Fairey has something for all collectors.
Why did Heritage launch its IN FOCUS series?
Heritage launched the In Focus series earlier this year coming off the heels of a successful year in Urban Art. We decided that we wanted to have more curated sales and one of the ideas was to have auctions that would focus on single artists or movements. As seen just this past spring, we had an In Focus Auction for Retna and one for Takashi Murakami, both which were very successful, in my opinion. Everyone who has consigned with us has been excited as they feel in a curated auction the works just present better. We are already getting inquiries for the next round of In Focus auctions for these artists.
What artists are scheduled for future IN FOCUS sales?
The great thing about our In Focus auctions is that it has led to other departments to also partake. Two upcoming In Focus auctions are the Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali In Focus sales from our Modern and Contemporary category.
This article appears in the July 2021 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine.