Iconic Appropriation


Update: The Associated Press claims copyright infringement on the Obama HOPE poster. “The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission,” the AP’s director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement.

Update: The photographer for the iconic Hope photograph is Mannie Garcia. She writes on her website that she “made this photograph…of then Democratic Senator from Illinois, Barak Obama when he was with Actor George Clooney at the Press Club in Washington, DC in April 2006. They talked about Human Rights and Darfur. The Danziger Gallery which represents the artistic works of Mr. Fairey contacted me on the 21st of January 2009 to inform me that my photograph was in fact the basis for the artwork that has become better known now as the “HOPE”  and “PROGRESS” posters.”

As I continue to fall further down the blogging rabbit hole, I often come across odd debates. Most recently I stumbled upon The Online Photographer, a blog that reveals the source image for the now famous Obama Hope poster by the great street artist Shepard Fairey. The photographer is still unknown and I cannot help but wonder if they realize that their photograph has been appropriated into such an iconic image.

Mannie Garcia, Obama, April 2006

Shepard Fairey, Obama Hope poster

This conversation reminds me of Alberto Korda‘s photograph of Che Guevara which is considered to be the most reproduced image in the history of photography. I was fortunate to see the exhibition Revolution and Commerce: The Legacy of Korda’s Portrait of Che Guevara at the California Museum of Photography back in 2005. I recommend looking through the images on the exhibition’s website.

As far as the debate about image rights is concerned I found the biography by Brandi Leigh on the Art History Archive to be enlightening. But I personally think that Fairey should not be sued for his appropriation of the image.

Portrait of Alberto Korda

Alberto Korda, Guerrillero Heroico - Che Guevara at the funeral for the victims of the La Coubre explosion, March 5, 1960



5 Responses to “Iconic Appropriation”

  1. bob Says:

    that top part is wrong. they already retracted that they called the wrong photograph and someone else found the entire picture…

  2. Thanks Bob! This article is what I was looking for. So the photographer is Mannie Garcia and she has a great explanation on her site… http://web.mac.com/manniegarcia/iWeb/mannie%20garcia/Hope.html

  3. Mouse Says:

    Did you see that obamicon website where it turns your image into a version of the Obama Hope poster?

  4. jen z Says:

    hi shannon – I’m glad to see you have a blog!

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