National Portrait Gallery Acquires Shepard Fairey’s Portrait of Barack Obama

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Barack Obama/Shepard Fairey, 2008 / Hand-finished collage, stencil and acrylic on paper / Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection in honor of Mary K. Podesta / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / © Shepard Fairey/Obey Giant

The portrait that came to symbolize the historic campaign of President-elect Barack Obama will make its permanent home only a few blocks from the White House at the National Portrait Gallery.

The piece, created by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey, came to the museum through the generosity of Washington, D.C., art collectors Heather and Tony Podesta, in honor of Tony Podesta’s mother, the late Mary K. Podesta.

“This work is an emblem of a significant election, as well as a new presidency,” said Martin E.Sullivan, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Shepard Fairey’s instantly recognizable image was integral to the Obama campaign. We are deeply grateful to the Podestas for their generosity.”

Fairey’s large-scale, mixed-media stenciled collage was the central portrait image for the Obama campaign and was previously distributed as a limited-edition print and as a free download. The collage will be on view at the Portrait Gallery by Inauguration Day. It will be installed on the first floor of the museum in the “New Arrivals” exhibition.

Fairey’s work is represented by the Irvine Contemporary gallery in Washington, D.C. Fairey’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In 2006, Gingko Press published a monograph on the artist’s career, “Obey: Supply and Demand.” A retrospective of Fairey’s work will open Feb. 6 at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art.

Shepard Fairey on the Colbert Report:

The Colbert ReportMon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c

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