The Insistent Image: Recurrent Motifs in the Art of Shepard Fairey and Jasper Johns

May 22 - July 12, 2014

The Insistent Image: Recurrent Motifs in the Art of Shepard Fairey and Jasper Johns features new work by Shepard Fairey and a survey of prints made between 1982 and 2012 by Jasper Johns at Universal Limited Art Editions. Both Fairey and Johns recycle graphic elements in the works they produce and in each case these repeated fragments gain new meaning through fresh juxtapositions and associations. Additionally, both artists have the capacity to transform the quotidian into the iconic. Each artist will occupy a separate gallery space, and no attempt is made at comparing their works. Rather, this exhibition demonstrates the power of this strategy of image repetition in the works of these two distinguished American artists.

For his first major exhibition in his hometown, the Los Angeles-based artist created an entire new body of work collectively entitled “Power & Glory”. According to Fairey, the idea behind these works is the celebration and critique of Americana with an emphasis on the meanings of power. Staying true to his rebellious punk background, and the social and political critique in his work, the new pieces are full of “in your face” slogans and statements about power, security, protection and similar subjects. Known for his visual remix of logos, symbols, and imagery, the new paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and screen prints explore and analyze everything that is both good and bad about American lifestyle and culture. Along with exhibiting his works in the indoor space, Fairey will be creating a series of large-scale public murals in locations throughout downtown Charleston, visually and thematically related to the show.

Jasper Johns will be represented by a series of sixteen prints made in collaboration with master printmaker Bill Goldston at Universal Limited Art Editions in New York. This selection emphasizes many of Johns’ recurrent motifs and themes over the past 30 years including flags, the face/vase optical illusion, targets, galaxies, gestures from American Sign Language, and fragments of works by famous artists such as Picasso, Holbein, da Vinci, and George Ohr, and others. Through a special arrangement with the artist and ULAE, we are able to borrow some of Johns’ most iconic works for this exhibition.

Johns was longtime friends with William Halsey, the artist for whom the Halsey Institute was named.








SHEPARD FAIREY – INSTALLATION (courtesy of Badjon Photography)




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Supporters: South Carolina Arts Commission |  City of Charleston | Baker and Cortney Bishop | Michael and Lisa Roy | Edith Howle and Rick Throckmorton |  Sandy Turner and Chris Wyrick | John and Karen Vournakis

Artist Bios

Shepard Fairey

Born in 1970 in Charleston, SC this will be Shepard Fairey’s first major exhibition in his hometown. Beginning in the 1980s with an obsession with skateboard culture and a sticker campaign that went viral, Shepard Fairey has become one of the most visible street artists in the world. His seemingly ubiquitous Obama HOPE poster helped bolster his career (and, arguably, President Obama’s), and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC acquired it for their permanent collection. Straddling the realms of fine, commercial, and street art, Fairey’s work resists easy classification. The artist exploits the gaps between these genres to produce works that frequently take on social and political issues. Fairey has become an articulate advocate for free speech and progressive ideas. His work is included in the collections of the Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Jasper Johns

Born in 1930, Johns spent his childhood in South Carolina, and briefly attended the University of South Carolina before moving to New York in 1948. After meeting Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, and John Cage, his work pulled away from the Abstract Expressionist style that was prevalent at that time, and he embraced a new kind of artmaking based on the premise of re-presenting the familiar in surprising ways. Johns’ work complicates the relationship between the subject and its depiction in a work of art. Johns has had one of the most illustrious careers of any American artist, with major exhibitions at New York’s Museum of Modern Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Kunstmuseum Basel, and, most recently The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, to list a few.

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