Of the innumerable iterations of Fairey’s once-inescapable posters made to support Obama’s first presidential run, there are but three original large-scale, mixed-media stenciled collages made by the artist.
One is in a private collection and another is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.
The third one, from the assemblage of a major American Art collector set an auction record in Heritage’s Modern & Contemporary Art Signature® Auction, which realized a total of $2,977,438, surpassing the sale’s pre-auction estimate.
“We were honored to offer this majestic, stunning and important work – the image that defined an entire movement and a presidency,” said Heritage Auctions’ Taylor Curry, Director of Modern & Contemporary Art.
“I can’t overstate how important the image is, and bidders responded accordingly. Heritage is absolutely thrilled to have been part of this historic, record-setting sale.”
HOPE is the work The New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl called “the most efficacious American political illustration since Uncle Sam Wants You”; a work, wrote the critic, that provided “a thrill of concerted purpose, guarded against fatuity by coolly candid deliberation.”
Fairey was a graphic-design star and revered activist long before his HOPE spread across the country.
As his Obey Giant website notes, he has been “manufacturing quality dissent since 1989,” when he created the equally iconic “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” street art while a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. The sticker and graffiti campaign, born out of the skateboarding scene, gave rise to his Obey empire.