Wert, a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute who has made campaign art a specialty, collected 160 Obama posters created across the country during the 2008 presidential campaign in a spontaneous and exuberant flowering of artistic invention and independent activism. The reproductions are superb, and the posters are dazzling in their ingenuity, energy, passion, humor, and joy. The story begins in Chicago, Obama’s home, where a stealthy “superhero” papered the city with posters. Outed as Chicago designer and printmaker Ray Noland, he jump-started an unprecedented “nationwide political art movement.” Shepard Fairey’s work is now iconic, and such established artists as Robert Indiana and Rafael Lopez joined in, but most of these spectacular images were made by little-known “skateboarder street artists.” The styles range from reverential to romantic to trippy, with Obama, often gazing upward, portrayed as Lincoln and Superman, surfer dude and basketball player, man of peace and warrior for change. With a concise history of campaign posters and thumbnail artist biographies, Wert’s inspiriting and historic volume showcases potent visual testimony to Obama’s world-altering magnetism and promise. --Donna Seaman
“A handsome and hopeful gift to mark Barack Obama’s first holiday season in office. A solid collection of visuals to enjoy, rather than the ephemeral state that usually awaits such artwork. Accompanied by an informative catalog of artists and a brief overview of the campaign poster since 1836.” - Lavender Magazine
“Professor Hat Elliott Wert of the Kansas City Art Institute always regretted that he let a certain very special McCarthy campaign poster get away in 1968; so when he sensed history on the move again 40 years later, he didn’t hesitate to gather all the memorabilia he could. The resulting collection captures the spirit of the overwhelming response to President Obama’s historic presidential campaign through the eyes of the poster artists it inspired. The collection was first shown to the public in a Chicago exhibition entitled ‘Officially Unofficial: Inspired Art for Obama.’ Now, over 170 of the works come to the page in full-color glory in Hope. The book’s introduction and epilogue are refreshingly in-depth and give great context to both the included works and the history of the political poster movement. Otherwise, the images are allowed to stand alone on page after page. Despite the fact that these works were conceived independently, the eclectic collection works astonishingly well in series; as the pages turn, it’s easy to recall the electric charge that many sensed in the air as the 2008 campaign marched toward its historic conclusion. Some might say it’s too soon for the retrospective on a campaign that ended just barely a year ago; I say there’s no time like the present to grab an important piece of history.” - MetroSource
“Wert (Kansas City Art Inst.) has here collected an impressive selection of posters from Barack Obama¹s presidential campaign. The images are particularly notable because they are not official campaign posters but a form of outsider art, the work of a wide range of artists all of whom were inspired to work independently to promote the candidacy of Obama. Beginning with Ray Noland in Chicago (who provides a foreword), the book goes on to present the work of anonymous artists as well as that of well-known figures like Robert Indiana. We see Obama rendered as Lincoln, Superman, a pothead, a basketball hero, a boxer, a wrestler, and an Everyman depicted humorously, with dignity, with nobility, and as the neighbor down the street. It is hard to think of a graphic style that isn¹t represented. A succinct epilogue with a historical view of graphics from past political campaigns helps put the phenomenon in perspective. VERDICT More than a novelty, this enjoyable chronicle of a unique moment in America¹s national history will remain a useful document for generations. For anyone interested in graphic arts, poster art, and political history.” - Library Journal
“A year ago, Kansas City Art Institute professor Hal Wert showed his collection of Barack Obama street posters at the school’s H&R Block Artspace. Now the posters have been assembled into a 188-page book, “Hope: A Collection of Obama Posters and Prints,” published by Zenith Press.
“Ranging from corny to cool, with an occasional disconcerting nod to old-style social realism, the images offer a fun romp through the Obama-mania of the 2008 presidential election.
Great art it’s mostly not, with the exception of Robert Indiana’s 21st-century remake of his iconic 1960s LOVE poster into a red, white and blue “HOPE” print.
“A lot of the designs, including Ron English’s fusion of Obama’s face with Abraham Lincoln’s, are simply bizarre. But enthusiasm and idealism carry the day in images that portray the candidate as Superman, a prizefighter and even a surfer, riding — you guessed it — a wave of hope.” - Kansas City Star