Shepard Fairey – Force Majeure
Curated by MMOMA (Moscow Museum of Modern Art) and Wunderkammern
In collaboration with RuArts Foundation and Artmossphere
Shepard Fairey is the artist behind OBEY GIANT, the graphic campaign that started with a sticker he created in 1989 as student at the Rhode Island School of Design to lately evolve into a worldwide street art campaign. The caustic irony of the OBEY GIANT campaign belies in its content, leading viewers to question what they really are looking at in the streets, passively accepting to “obey” – sometimes even subconsciously – to images in adverts and their related content. Political messages in Fairey’s approach are traceable not only in his sticker campaign, but also in his famous “HOPE” portrait of Barack Obama, which in 2008 became the iconic image of the presidential campaign supporting the democratic movement.
Now as the artist’s career nears its 30th year, Shepard Fairey continues his original mission to create work that is accessible to all and forces viewers to question everything. In addition to his guerilla street works, as of 2018, Fairey has painted more than 85 large-scale murals around the world. Fairey completed his 100th painted mural in 2019.
Working with Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) and curated by Wunderkammern, Shepard Fairey presents his exhibition “Force Majeure”, a historical overview of his career to date, showcasing the evolution of his body of work. The perennial provocateur Shepard Fairey has tackled politics, commercial messaging, subversion, and social constructs over the span of his 30-year career as a graphic designer and artist, concepts that will be on view in the exhibition, his first-ever in Russia. “Force Majeure” meaning “superior force” suggests an extraordinary event beyond control. Force majeure refers to events such as a war, riot, crime, and natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions.
“The world is a turbulent and unpredictable place so as an artist addressing social and political issues in the moment I respond to force majeure events as they unfold, often in hopes that a moment of disruption commanding attention provides an opportunity for a powerful artistic statement. My art is inspired by the rich history of art and design with my aim being to capture what is universal and timeless while also potent in an urgent moment of crisis and need.” Shepard Fairey
This exhibition presents both exclusive new artworks, reflecting the main themes of Shepard’s career body of work including politics, environment, war and peace, but also showcases many of Fairey’s artworks reflecting the profound influence of Russian avant-garde on his style. The artist intentionally selected the French version of the term “force majeure” because French is recognized globally as the international language of diplomacy. Diplomacy is indeed needed for an exhibition by an American artist, hosted by a Russian public museum and curated by an Italian gallery with a German name. Shepard Fairey’s body of artwork speaks a universal visual language. The exhibition “Force Majeure” is a call to a social and political responsibility that engages with the public at large, in line (or better, obeying!) to Fairey’s public art principles. Whether in a complex political decision or our everyday environmental efforts, we shall strive to remain on the higher ground. “Force Majeure” becomes a call to all of us, a synthesis of the artist’s manifesto.
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MMOMA – Moscow Museum of Modern Art