The 2008 Presidential Election was dominated visually by a single artwork—Shepard Fairey's Hope portrait print of Barack Obama. Despite the controversy that ensued surrounding the source photograph, Hope was widely seen, vastly imitated, and most importantly in retrospect, associated with the candidate who ultimately won. One could argue that the greatest strength of Obama's 2008 campaign was at the intersection of his visual and digital efforts to connect with voters, and Hope undoubtedly played a huge role.
The 2012 Presidential Election, however, lacks a singular defining artwork. In the fine art world, multiple group exhibitions are taking place that challenge, critique, and support candidates. Some are iterations of works from as early as 2008 and others are immediate responses to the current debates. Some of the most influential works are accompanied by either more from the same artist or equally impressive artists from different mediums. While we've highlighted 10 specific pieces, we've also featured them alongside a sampling of the works they are being shown with. Political art, like politics itself, is about conversation and debate.
There have been an unprecedented number of memes, which carry artistic sentiment in their own way, referencing everything from Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention to Mitt Romney's statements about Big Bird and PBS at the first presidential debate. Whether it's the performing arts building that will host the final debate in Florida, an aerial graffiti campaign, or an affordable print made to support either candidate, these 10 Artworks Influencing the Presidential Election show that art is still alive and influential in U.S. politics today.