The White House as an art gallery: what does Obama the innovator like?

US President Barack Obama has become a real "culture tracker" of the Washington residence, and news from there is not uncommon. Today they talk about the paintings of Rothko and Hopper, and in fact, before, the walls of the administration had never decorated such innovative canvases. Now, the dining room of the White House is a very expensive art space, and in the east wing there is a show of fresh cinema hit “Treasure Hunters” by Clooney, contrary to Obama's intentions not to influence the Oscar race even indirectly.

New Oval Office

Recently, the work space of Barack Obama was replenished with two paintings by the artist Edward Hopper (Edward Hopper). This name thundered in December last year, when at auction Christie's in New York, the painting East wind over Weehawken was sold for $ 40.4 million, which is almost twice the estimate. The canvas of an outstanding American urbanist of the twentieth century, which has become the top lot, reminds of the grim 30s of the last century: an American street with houses near one of which is the “For Sale” sign. Barack Obama, making vital decisions for the country, contemplates Hopper's more optimistic plots. The choice of the country's first person was made in favor of the paintings “Cobb's Barns” and “The Strong House of Cobb” (Burly Cobb's House,) created by the author in 1930-1933 on Cape Cod Peninsula, where the author and his wife used to spend the summer months . Having replenished the collection of American art collected at the White House, landscapes decorated the southeastern wall of the Oval Office, designed by decorator Michael Smith. Works borrowed from the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Edward Hopper "Strong House Cobb"

Presidential Film Club

One of the latest liberal decisions of Barack Obama in the field of art was the abolition of the moratorium on the screening of films in the White House. A closed demonstration of the tape “The Treasure Hunters” (The Monument Men), which premiered in February in the world, was held in the east wing of the residence. Previously, film show taboos were introduced to avoid lobbying the interests of nominees for the Oscar. But for the film work of his friend, George Clooney, (George Clooney) the president made an exception. There is no smoke without fire: it is worth recalling that at one time the actor and director collected $ 15 million for the election campaign of the American president. Experts say: the film is not involved in the Oscar race 2014, as it comes out on screens only this year. So the treasure hunt will continue, Mr. President!

For home, for family

Currently, the permanent collection of the presidential residence has nearly 500 pieces of art. In the White House, they always treated art with piety. So, Dolly Madison during the war of 1812 was saved by the portrait Portrait - a realistic genre, depicting the actual person or group of people. The portrait - in the French reading - portrait, from the old French portraire - "reproduce something line in line." Another facet of the name of the portrait lies in the outdated word "parsuna" - from the Latin. persona - "person; person". Read More George Washington, written by Gilbert Stuart. Jacqueline Kennedy borrowed from the permanent collection of one of the museums eight paintings by Cezanne (Cézanne). Hilary Clinton defended the abstraction of Georgia O'Keeffe (Georgia O'Keeffe) "Mountain at Bear Lake, Taos" ("Mountain at Bear Lake, Taos"), while critics insisted that the work would violate the restrained elegance of the Green Room created by the paintings of the XIX century. Laura Bush convinced the committee overseeing the White House art collection to donate a picture of her contemporary Andrew Wyeth, which contradicts the rules: before getting into the White House, painting must be sustained for at least 25 years. Therefore, in the residence collection there is a minimum of works by living artists. Obama's interest in art flared up long before he took the presidency. Rumor has it that on one of the first dates Mr. President invited his future wife Michelle to the Chicago Art Institute. Right after his inauguration, Mr. and Mrs. Obama made a list of 40 artists whose canvases they would like to contemplate, and sent him to the Hirshhorn Museum. In the meantime, they began to "art-stripping."

Georgia O'Keefe "Mountain on Bear Lake, Taos"


First of all, Barack Obama got rid of the bronze bust of Winston Churchill, presented by the British Embassy, ​​replacing it with the statue of Martin Luther King by the work of African-American sculptor Charles Alston (Charles Alston). The four African-American paintings by William H. Johnson continued to bend the politically correct line, among them “Booker Washington. Legend ”(“ Booker T. Washington Legend ”) - a canvas depicting a former black slave teaching a lesson to students, as well as a household portrait. A portrait is a realistic genre depicting a person or a group of people. The portrait - in the French reading - portrait, from the old French portraire - "reproduce something line in line." Another facet of the name of the portrait lies in the outdated word "parsuna" - from the Latin. persona - "person; person". Read further in the naive style "People's Family". The work of contemporary artist Glenn Ligon (Glenn Ligon) “Black as I Am No. 2”, also appealing to Obama, is a canvas written with phrases from the memoirs of John Howard Griffin, artificially darkened skin and traveling in the south of America. Ed Ruscha (Ed Ruscha), another author of a series of witty paintings using words, is represented in the White House with a work on decisions and indecision "I think I am ..." (I Think I'll ...). Meanwhile, the living room was decorated with works of the pillars of abstractionism XX century - Jasper Johns (Jasper Johns) and Mark Rothko (Mark Rothko). Next to them are the works of European abstractionists: a picture of French painter with Russian roots Nicolas de Staël, “Nice” - red, green and black accents on the canvas, as well as a pair of decorated squares from the German Josef Albers (Josef Albers) under title "Dedication of the area."

Glen Ligon "Black as I # 2"

Joseph Albers "Dedication of the Square"

Nicola de Stael "Nice"

Ed Rush "I think I ..."

William H. Johnson "Folk Family"

William H. Johnson “Booker Washington. Legend"

Advisor to the President: what does Obama like?

White House art curator William Allan (William Allan) notes Obama’s interest in “American history, technology (the shipping wheel, created in 1877 by Milwaukee Williams inventor and creative spirit), took its place in the collection. Bush's times were dominated by classic Texan landscapes on the walls of the presidential administration; now they are playfully looking at the spreading American flag on the Avenue in the Rain by Childe Hassam and the colorful Statue of Liberty by Norman Rockwell (Norman Rockwell) .When It is noteworthy that the public premises of the White House should be decorated according to strict rules, but the design of personal rooms depends solely on the preferences of the head of state. Perhaps that is why the realist art of the XIX century is represented in the administrative part of the building. There are paintings by George Catlin (George Catlin) " The Indians attack the buffaloes ”(Indian Attacking Buffalo) and Winslow Homer (Winslow Homer)“ Sunset ”(Sunset), as well as two bronze statuettes of Edgar Degas (Edgar Dega):“ Dancer Putting On Stocking ”and“ Bow ”(The Bow).

Childe Hassam Avenue in the Rain

George Kathleen "Indians are attacking buffaloes"

Off, plagiarism!

But the picture of Alma Thomas (Alma Thomas) "Vatusi" ("Clear contours") (Watusi (Hard Edge), taken from the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum, in the White House said "no." Art critics ruthlessly suspected in it a hint of "Snail "Henri Matisse, who the author proclaimed to be her main inspiration. Experts' opinion was used by bloggers as an excuse to criticize the president’s taste and awareness in art. But Michelle Obama’s press secretary denied this version of the reason why the painting did not fit into the interior. from the painting by Thomas "Heaven th light »(Sky Light), which continues to decorate the presidential living room.

Alma Thomas "Vatusi"

Alma Thomas "Heavenly Light"

President - well, gallery owner - better!

The interest of the presidents to the creations of individual authors may be politically tinged. Thus, the African American American Semmy Knox (Semmie Knox) ​​became the artistic favorite of Bill Clinton, which caused unconditional public approval. Unlike the administration’s acquired picture of “The Builders” by Jacob Lawrence, in which watchful critics immediately smelled racist notes: it depicted African Americans doing hard work. The paintings from museums, private collectors and galleries are high-ranking lovers of modern art borrow for free or purchase at the expense of funds raised from philanthropists. Taken "for temporary use" of the picture, the US president is obliged to return to the end of the last term. In this case, the choice of Obama can significantly affect the estimated cost of work, therefore, representatives of the art market are extremely interested in such cooperation. So, the price of Tom Leah's canvases (Tom Lea) increased by 300% after the work of “Rio Grande” (Rio Grande) appealed to George W. Bush. It should be emphasized that many collectors, whose paintings are now in the White House, as well as George Clooney, prudently sponsored the election campaign of Obama, in order to raise the price in the future! According to Chicago-based art consultant Bridget McCullough Alexander (Bridgette McCullough Alexander), as soon as it becomes known to collectors that Mr. Obama wants to "fill the fridge with fresh painting," they are happy to provide him with "products."