- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2009

Familiar from magazine covers, posters and T-shirts, the bold portrait of President Obama is now part of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

Shepard Fairey, a 38-year-old graphic designer from Los Angeles, produced the iconic but unofficial image last year to support the Democratic presidential candidate. It was initially available as a limited-edition print and became a popular Internet download.

Combining patriotic colors, the collage portrait is one of several original versions. Its stenciled face with upward glance is more expressive in person and combines influences from Andy Warhol’s celebrity silk screens, 1960s posters and presidential photography. Mr. Fairey’s design agency has applied a similar graphic sensibility to album covers for the Black Eyed Peas and Led Zeppelin, and the poster for the 2005 film “Walk the Line.”

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The Obama piece was donated to the museum by Washington lobbyists and art collectors Heather and Tony Podesta. It hangs in the “New Arrivals” exhibition on the first floor but will not be the only likeness of the new president in the collection. The museum is planning to commission an official portrait of President Obama later in his term.

Deborah K. Dietsch

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