The famous collage of Barack Obama looking pensively over the word “hope” is on the auction block today with a current bid of $80,000. The piece is by artist Shepard Fairey, the man behind the “André the Giant Has a Posse” stickers that later evolved into the “Obey” street art.
The money from the action won’t go to Barack Obama’s campaign. Instead, it'll be routed to hip hop mogul Russell Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic “Art for Life” charity event. The organization is dedicated to bringing art to disadvantaged urban youth, but the auction seems to have tapped into a cultural trend that isn’t necessarily altruistic.
“It's a nice crossover between fine art and propaganda,” Alex W. Smith, an art specialist for the Phillips de Pury & Co. auction house told the Wall Street Journal. Clearly the excitement behind the Obama campaign is inflating the price. And there’s no doubt that most of the people in the Wall Street Journal article are looking at the collage as an investment, rather than art for art’s sake. But I think there’s something else that makes the collage more valuable.
I think that photo perfectly captures what the Onion calls Obama's “Looking-Off-Into-Future Pose.” According to the Onion, “advisers say this creates the illusion that Obama is looking forward to a bright future, while the downturned corners of his lips indicate that he acknowledges the problems of the present.” And that can translate into big money.
(Thanks, Kanye West.)
UPDATE: There’s about 2 days left on the auction and the bidding is up to $108,000.