Art history majors, rejoice. President George W. Bush has broken out his smock and easel, entering the world of fine art with a new exhibition at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Bush painted scores of world leaders, from Vladimir Putin to his own father. Unsurprisingly, people across the internet have decided that they are painting experts and/or psychologists, trying to suck some meaning out of the portraits.
According to Bill Arning, director of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Bush’s paintings are in “’high-amateur’ mode” and made by “someone who has clearly studied a little art history and worked with an art teacher.” So, in other words, they look your final project from A.P. Studio Art senior year of high school. Understandable. It’s not like President Bush had a lot of time to work on his use of texture and perspective and light while he was in office, given the wars and the economy and his constantly plotting Vice President (I didn’t see any portraits of Cheney – maybe he’s just too complex for the canvass).
And you can’t really read too much into the images, given that various outlets have reported that all of these portraits were based off of pictures from Google.
The good news is that these portraits are way better than those revealed earlier on, after some depraved souls hacked Bush’s sister’s email account. The most famous of that series – Bush Naked in Shower – was panned for its strange use of perspective (one reviewer called it “a very naive approach to painting”). Once again, Google saves us from embarrassment.
So, will we see some Bush work in MoMa or the National Portrait Gallery anytime soon? Nope. But the man is chilling after eight years of doing the most stressful job on the planet – leave him alone with his watercolors.