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The Art of Politics

Posted by on September 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm


Will you vote in the coming election?

Now that the Republican and Democratic Conventions have ended, the official race for President has begun! At the end of the race, millions of Americans will cast their vote for the next President of the United States.

Will one vote make a difference?

Can one person change the outcome of this election?

Could the work of one artist, one image affect the election and leave a lasting impression that sways votes?

We’ve seen many images used in politics over the years from cartoons and caricatures to photos and paintings, including this early American cartoon (shown above) from one of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin.

Over two hundred and fifty years later in 2008 another artist made a dramatic impact producing one of the most memorable, if not the most effective works used by a political campaign in modern history. This piece became synonymous with the campaign, representing the candidate and his message during the election.

The image was of the candidate with a four-letter word that simply read, “HOPE.” This work was created by street artist Shepard Fairey. Fairy had created other well-known works including the Andre the Giant “Obey” image seen on many walls and stickers around the country. Fairey’s work conveys a dramatic message with a quick glance, leaving the viewer with a lasting slogan that is hard to forget.

Whether you agree with the politician, the image and message Fairey created is effective in its simplicity. Fairey has since gone on to become a well-known contemporary artist.

Other artists have followed Fairey’s lead with their own versions of campaign-themed art for the 2012 election cycle.

One artist, Jon McNaughton, has used art to take a critical view of the President’s time in office. McNaughton’s art takes a complex approach, leaving the viewer with an encyclopedia of symbolism. His work is so detailed that he’s created an impressive interactive guide on his website to help explain the meaning behind each image; yet, the overall message leaves little for interpretation.

It may never be known if artists have changed or will change the outcome of any past or future elections. What is known is that the work and expression of one artist can leave a lifelong impression of an important moment in time.