Was the Iconic Shepherd Fairey Obama Hope Image Taken by Freelance Photographer Mannie Garcia?

Was the Iconic Shepherd Fairey Obama Hope Image Taken by Freelance Photographer Mannie Garcia?I shot the above photo of the HOPE posters back when Shepherd Fairey had a show in town late last year and plastered San Francisco with various images of his.

Tom Gralish over at the Philadelphia Inquirer has a blog post out today where he claims that the iconic and famous Obama HOPE Image, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery and is credited as being created by artist Shepherd Fairey, may have actually been taken directly from a photograph taken by Freelance Photographer Mannie Garcia. Although I’m not aware of Garcia ever being attributed as the source of this image, Gralish did a great bit of his own detective work to come up with this conclusion. I have not seen any comments anywhere yet from Garcia on the image which will likely go down as one of the greatest and historical works of art of the past century.

Interestingly enough, it also appears that the original photo was not taken at some philosophical moment where Obama was contemplating the future of our great nation or delivering some great speech, but rather when he was probably listening to either Republican Senator Sam Brownback or possibly actor George Clooney.

From Gralish:

“The photo was made by freelance photographer Mannie Garcia who was on assignment for the AP in April of 2006, where a National Press Club news advisory alerted the media that, Academy Award Winner George Clooney will address National Press Club on hisrecent visit to war-torn Darfur and will release video footage from his trip to Sudan. Clooney will be joined by U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), co-sponsors of S. 1462, The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, and co-sponsors of amendments to increase funding? for peacekeeping operations in Sudan.”

So, it looks like the image that poster artist Shepard Fairey said looked presidential, telling the Washington Post: “He is gazing off into the future, saying, ‘I can guide you,’ ” actually showed our new president listening to George Clooney. Or, probably more likely, fellow Senator Brownback.”

Richard Prince would be proud.

In related news today, it was also uncovered that the famous “Joebama” poster, created by artist Joe Reifer, interestingly enough, also was lifted from a photograph of Reifer taken by yours truly in 2007 at the Lucky JuJu Pinball Gallery. 😉 (If you’d like to create your own Obama Hopeish poster from your own image you can do that here).

Update: It seems, from Garcia’s website, that representatives of Fairey’s yesterday confirmed that the original image did in fact come from one of Garcia’s photographs:

The Danziger Gallery which represents the artistic works of Mr. Fairey contacted me on the 21st of January 2009 to inform me that my photograph was in fact the basis for the artwork that has become better know now as the “HOPE” and “PROGRESS” posters., thanks Claytonia!

Update 2: NPR has a podcast audio interview with Fairey where he discusses this image from yesterday here. Thanks, David!