Best Reprisal Against a Carpetbagging, Out-of- Town Street Artist (2010)

Shepard Fairey

It must have seemed like a fairly uncontroversial move when Jeffrey Deitch asked Shepard Fairey to put up a mural on the Houston Street wall formerly graced by Keith Haring and, more recently, the Brazilian street art duo Os Gêmeos. The South Carolina–born Fairey is arguably the most famous street artist in the world (see: his iconic blue-and-red image of Obama). But in New York, that fact turned out not to mean much—no sooner did his "May Day" mural go up than various local graffiti writers started bombing it, repeatedly, and with gusto. Anonymous holes were punched and kicked through Fairey's wheatpaste construction. Then someone painted a huge penis on it. Finally, in late August, four short months after it had first gone up, the mural was buffed away without comment, making way for new work by Barry McGee. Scrawled one wag, before the end: "Bring back the Haring." Better luck next time, Shep!


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