art theory in the news

Barack Obama Rented All This New Art To Express His Feelings About Things

So the Obamas are replacing a lot of the landscapes and marble busts and whatever in the White House with new art that they actually like. For example, this thing over there to the right depicting two very different people who are united by their shared interest in murdering a buffalo. The Times, the British one, calls this a “cultural revolution.” This is true! Very soon all families in America will be required to own several Rothkos, or the equivalent in buffalo murder landscapes. Anyway, let’s skip pretending we’re not going to do this and just go ahead and extrapolate Barack Obama’s policy initiatives based on the First Lady’s selection of interior decoration.

Because isn’t there something Barack Obama is not telling us about his stance on Afghanistan when he explicitly talks about his stance on Afghanistan? Something that can only be expressed through someone else’s painting?

  • “One of the most striking – and apt, as Mr Obama wrestles with his Afghanistan policy – is Edward Ruscha’s I Think I’ll …, a painting about indecision which superimposes phrases such as ‘I think I’ll …’ and ‘maybe … no’ and ‘wait a minute’ on top of a blood red sunset.”
  • “Glenn Ligon’s Black Like Me No. 2, a Hirshhorn loan now hanging in the first family’s living quarters, is a ‘text painting’ that reproduces words from the 1961 book Black Like Me, a non-fiction account by a white man who disguised himself as a black man and travelled through the South. Ligon, a black artist from Brooklyn in New York, said in an interview that the painting’s theme fitted with Mr Obama’s efforts to create a dialogue between the races.”
  • “Jeri Redcorn, a 69-year-old Native American artist from Norman, Oklahoma, said that she started jumping up and down and screaming when she found out last week that a piece of her pottery was on a bookshelf in the Oval Office. Ms Redcorn, who uses the same pottery techniques that her Caddo ancestors relied on 500 years ago, said that the Obamas’ artwork selections represented ‘a bridge, and a reaching out to other cultures.’”

All the journalists are so stoked to be able to use these theoried-out college words! “Create a dialogue.” Mmm.

[Times Online]

About the author

Juli Weiner was Wonkette's beloved intern and books columnist and then morning editor until she was hired away by Vanity Fair in 2010.

View all articles by Juli Weiner
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79 comments

  1. chascates

    So, the John Wayne dolls and Roy Rogers figurines George Bush left behind weren’t good enough for Mr. Smarty Pants Elitist!

  2. Terry

    If they try to remove that Remington sculpture from the Oval Office, the ghost of old Ronnie will haunt the heck out of them.

  3. ManchuCandidate

    I think I would be seriously disappointed if the art the Obamas chose was the more Palinesque “Dogs Playing Poker” or anything painted on black velvet by Sly Stallone.

  4. Aflac Shrugged

    Does this mean that every wall in the Bush White House had a copy of the original movie posters for Red Dawn and maybe Belushi wearing the sweatshirt that said COLLEGE?

  5. Gorillionaire

    The real story will be finding out what Obama has in his man cave, the room where he gets to chill and the girls are instructed to stay out. The room where the stereo is always on and nobody cares if those cans pile up next to the sofa bed or if those sneakers have been washed in two months. Where the nerf ball net is permanently fixed over the top of the door.
    I’m thinking Purple Rain poster.

  6. hobospacejunkie

    Call me old-fashionedm but when I was a kid paintings were mafe of paint, not text. Whatever, anything is better than Remington & other western-themed “art.” Cowboys roping dogeys or horses or shootin’ injuns is just awful to look at. Sort of the visual equivalent of a Louis L’Amour novel.

  7. SayItWithWookies

    Alas for the Heroic Rusticism movement, the capitalist equivalent of Socialist Realism. I’d love to see the looks on some conservative faces when they find their favorite giant bronze eagle or whatever has been replaced with “Pants Woven in Wire.”

  8. TGY

    replacing a lot of the landscapes and marble busts

    That’ll be hard, since George Bush had a lot of busts. Indeed, you may say his entire time in office was one big bust.

  9. hockeymom

    [re=428551]Aflac Shrugged[/re]: I hear they also have some pottery made by the talented Fawn Leibowitz, who, as you know, died in a tragic kiln accident.

  10. ChernobylSoup v2

    If there’s no Remington sculpture of a dying bronco somewhere in the White House then Ronald Reagan is truly dead.

  11. x111e7thst

    I like to spend my time jumping up and down and screaming. However I do not make any pottery that could end up in the W H so I have to find other excuses.

  12. hockeymom

    [re=428560]WadISay[/re]: I hope he hangs Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in the John Ashcroft room.
    Boobies!

  13. SayItWithWookies

    I’d really like to see him install a casting of The Burghers of Calais and put Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld masks on them.

  14. DoctorCulturae

    Inane absurd fantasy #26: Pull every troop out of Affystan and then carpet bomb the poppy fields to 10BC. As in, y’all want to start over? Then g’head, start over. Here’s what true scratch looks like. Warlords, have at it.

  15. gurukalehuru

    Hey, I totally respect the president and all, but I think his taste in art is crap. That “indecision” thing is more like a bad book cover than a painting, and the one entitled “Watusi With Sharp Corners” or something like that, well, that gets a big old WTF. Does the title refer to the tribe or the dance named after the tribe and, in either event, what do a bunch of box of 8 crayon colored squares have to do with hunting moose in Alaska.
    That’s about all I have to say about that.

  16. ChernobylSoup v2

    [re=428536]Terry[/re]: for the record I began typing mine before you but got sidetracked by the evil boss.

  17. Zadig

    Come on, Juli, don’t insult our intelligence. We all know that the paintings don’t say nearly as much about Barry’s Afghanistan policy as Michelle’s hairdo does.

  18. BigBrainOnBrad

    I’d love to see the reaction of conservatives if Barry were to hang those big-afro amazon pictures from Scatman Crother’s Florida residence in “The Shining” in the oval office.

  19. slavojzizek

    Glenn Beck’s interns are furiously at work as we speak, discovering that some of these ‘artists’ did drugs, said mean things about the US, Republicans, and/or the military, and may actually not have white skin.

  20. artpepper

    The London Times is some elitist thing right? I want art that I can understand, like Thomas Kinkaid (r) Painter of Light (r). I seen ‘em at the mall and they’re real pretty.

  21. AnnieGetYourFun

    “A cultural revolution is under way at the White House, where the Obamas are decorating their living quarters with modern and abstract artwork.”

    Wow. That won’t be used by any conservatives to draw parallels between Obama and Mao Zedong. Thank goodness.

  22. thefrontpage

    We’ve seen some of the art in the White House, and the best ones are the paintings of Elvis on black velvet, some black-light psychedelic posters from the mid-’70s, some reprints of the old Fillmore concert hall concert posters, and an entire series depicting dogs playing poker. There are black lights installed over several of the black-light paintings. Very far-out, man.

  23. SayItWithWookies

    [re=428554]SayItWithWookies[/re]: Here we go: Pants and Woven Wire. This annoyed the hell out of me when I was in high school. Now it just symbolizes abstract art that looks like it’s supposed to mean something but doesn’t.

  24. Jumping Jim

    [re=428552]Gorillionaire[/re]: Dr. J poster, circa New Jersey Nets, with full afro soaring in for a dunk.

  25. Jumping Jim

    [re=428558]hockeymom[/re]: Obama was the guy behind the guy who asked, “Can we dance wit yo dates?”

  26. Crank Tango

    [re=428597]the deliverator[/re]: or better still: have monsanto sell them some roundup-ready poppy seeds. If anyone could crush the Taliban, I bet monsanto could!

  27. BlueStateLibtard

    Hey, what’s going on with “my” Wonkette? Look at the new screen background–does this mean we in full warblog mode now?

  28. Norbert

    Is Obama trying to tell us something with the Black Like Me painting? Is this the clue which ties together all the strands on the blackboard? Is he actually not from Kenya as he claims but in fact a white dude from Kansas?

    [re=428593]dougbob[/re]: just Metal Machine Music, to trip out to during the August townhalls, in the Lincoln bedroom. He got off the junk just in time to give the health address to congress

    [re=428598]SayItWithWookies[/re]: St. Peter, the first Pope, was crucified upside down; the clergy are often getting out of their pants and into each other’s; ergo, it is an allegory of the Church.

  29. WhatTheHeck

    A painting of da Vivci’s Last Supper would be perfect. It’s full of innuendo and intrigue.
    Some plotting to pull out, some to go postal.

  30. american mutt

    [re=428593]dougbob[/re]:

    Jenny said when she was just five years old
    There was nothin’ happenin’ at all
    Every time she puts on a radio
    There was nothin’ goin’ down at all,
    Not at all
    Then one fine mornin’ she puts on a New York station
    You know, she don’t believe what she heard at all
    She started shakin’ to that fine fine music
    You know her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll
    Despite all the amputations you know you could just go out
    And dance to the rock ‘n’ roll station

  31. Suds McKenzie

    Does anyone else think those first two Buffalo are totally doing a 69?
    I may like this “new” White House.

  32. proudgrampa

    Edward Ruscha’s “I Think I’ll” strikes me as an unfortuanely perfect metaphor for this administration. Obama needs to stop seeking consensus and start kicking butt. IMHO.

  33. SmutBoffin

    Doesn’t Barry like Conan the Cimmerian and shit? Shouldn’t there be a bunch of Boris Vallejo‘s work on the walls? Come to think of it, he’s already married to a goddam Valkyrie, so nevermind.

  34. proudgrampa

    [re=428645]proudgrampa[/re]: re: “unfortuanely” Unfortunately, my fingers freeze up from time to time. Sheesh.

  35. GeneralLerong

    [re=428621]Crank Tango[/re]: Monsanto vs Taliban – sooooooo much greener than nuking the whole area into radioactive – albeit probably green-tinted – glass.

    Contemplating the potential of aerial bombing mutant poppy seed will cheer me up the rest of today, and I don’t have to swallow, inject, or huff anything.

  36. One Yield Regular

    I find this strangely reassuring, given that a politician’s aesthetic sense always seems like a window into his or her SOUL. I remember seeing Ross Perot on the TV being interviewed in his office. He had all this truly godawful anachronistic, patriotic art all over the place, bronze eagles and such, and I thought: “Hmm. Well, he SEEMS like a novel sort of independent, but that artwork just screams run-of-the-mill fascist.”

    [re=428639]responsible commenter[/re]: Yes! If *only* the Obamas would place Jeff Koons’ large porcelain “Michael Jackson & Bubbles” sculpture in the Capitol Rotunda…: http://www.artknowledgenews.com/Jeff_Koons_MCA.html

  37. Canmon (the Inadequate)

    I never really bought into “Black Like Me”. It’s a well written book but if you see the pictures, he looked like a middle aged white man in dark face. He didn’t even have the hair right. He just dyed his crew-cut black. It had to have been about as convincing as the Wayans brothers in “White Girls”.

  38. PsycGirl

    [re=428680]S.Luggo[/re]: Last time I saw a picture of two people positioned like that, I had to close it really quickly when my kid walked into the room.

  39. Extemporanus

    [re=428537]Crank Tango[/re]: [re=428540]Extemporanus[/re]: OK, you win.

    Your Internet carrier pidgeon is faster than my Internet carrier pidgeon, though to be fair, mine is still drunk from the birdseed schnaaps bender it went on last night.

    What’s that little birdie? You wanna try again? Well, go right ahead!

    Joe Biden’s office has gouache paintings.
    Rahmn Emanuel’s office has finger paintings.
    Hilary Clinton’s office has linoleum prints.
    Timothy Geithner’s office has paint-by-numbers.
    Ray LaHood’s office has connect-the-dots.
    Ken Salazar’s office has dream catchers.
    Steven Chu’s office has black light posters.
    Thomas Vilsack’s office has potato prints.
    Shaun Donovan’s office has cave drawings.
    Hilda Solis’ office has Shrinky Dinks.
    Extemporanus’ has a toilet, and I’m going to use it right now because making this list is getting kinda boring…

  40. desertwind

    Poor Michelle (and Barack) – unlike the rest of us, she can’t just say: I dunno. I just liked it! And the colors match my couch.

  41. finallyhappy

    [re=428639]responsible commenter[/re]: Balloon dog or his photos of his wife(the prominent Italian legislator)

  42. WIDTAP

    Time to pander, Mr. President. It’s never too early to hang up that Grant Wood in preparation for caucus season.

  43. RoscoePColtraine

    No Thomas Kinkade? Good. You get some of those, track lighting on dimmers, and you just lose all track of time.

  44. Zorg

    So much great stuff to choose from in the Smithsonian’s vaults! For the walls of a reception room reserved for visiting republican Congressmen, Barry could choose the comforting George Bellow’s lithograph, “Business-Men’s Bath” and Paul Cadmus’ etching, The Bath.” To give the Oval Office some much-needed flava, he could put up Eldzier Cortor’s painting, “Southern Gate.” For his Man Cave, to show he knows how to relax, maybe Robert Barnes’ pastel, “Lido.” And, for the long hallway that the tourists use, all of the Kenyon Cox paintings in the vault. Very sweet and all-American. You could look it up. Glenn Ligon and Ed Ruscha, meh, kinda boring.

  45. MzNicky

    [re=428676]Canmon (the Inadequate)[/re]: “Black Like Me” was groundbreaking in its day. Perhaps you had to have been there.

  46. LowerdPeninsula

    Am I the only one who got a slight laugh out of the fact that one of the artist’s name was “Redcorn” like King of the Hills‘s “John Redcorn”, and also that she jumped up and down and screamed like a little schoolgirl when she found that one of her pieces was on display in the White House? Total Obama fangirl.

    BTW, the Republican’s must be freaking out about all of the ‘primative’ art he’s putting up in the White House. They take that official residence’s name very seriously, to say the least. lol

  47. SparkleKitty

    Sarah was always used to being just a northern whore (poked by only Todd, Levi, Todd’s Friends, Levi’s friends, state people, church people, etc. She was like, “virgin”..beyond Jesus’ mother, except eveverybody on the eastern slope has fucked her. Almost like Jesus. ok? LEAVE SARAH ALONE.

  48. sanantonerose

    [re=428573]Carrie_Okie[/re]: I ordered a performance art book once for the library. Yeah, performance art book. Stupid, right? Moving on. The performance art depicted involved an artist dude drawing up blue paint into his penis (still not quite sure how he accomplished this) and then him expelling it with great force all over a floor canvass. Sort of a…Jackson Pollack meets Dumbo the elephant.

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