In our world of instantaneous global media, social networking, and handheld devices, much of the contemporary expression of art comes through popular culture and the media. Our society finds the most immediate connection with popular art that is instantly recognizable; consequently, much of art today deals with pop culture—everything from music and movies to news and politics. This 2008 print by Shepard Fairey became a national icon during the first campaign of President Barack Obama.
This is certainly an article of propaganda which has since been accepted by the general public (some more than others) as a culturally relevant work of art. But propaganda isn't new to art history; remember the court paintings of Napoleon by the French artist Jacques-Louis David? Here we have a similar kind of approach. The poster is vertical, intending to make the subject appear tall. The image of the African-American senator looking upward with the slogan word "Hope" beneath implies a positive future for the nation, and the rich red and blue colors indicate the figure's patriotic devotion to his country and its flag of red, white, and blue. His dual-colored face also implies his willingness to compromise between both Republican and Democratic parties (whose representative colors are red and blue, respectively). It's a symbolic work that has since been received by the general public as an iconic creation of American art, not to mention the basis for numerous parody imitations. This speaks of pop culture today and, in turn, the direction of art in the new millennium.
And, can you believe it?—that's the last artwork in my notes. We've come to the present day (more or less) and, therefore, the end of our study of Western art history.