The Official George W. Bush Portrait

Via Daily Kos comes the newly unveiled official portrait of the 43rd President of the United States.


Click image for longer article on painting

As you can tell, this painting, which The Washington Post describes as depicting Bush "seated on a green sofa in a Western-style shirt" -- a fairly informal pose and dress -- stands in direct contrast to the more formal portraits of previous Presidents. Take, for example, the portrait of Bill Clinton:

The closest thing that comes to mind, in fact, when viewing the Bush 43 official portrait is the official portrait of Jerry Brown hanging in the California state capitol, which similarly stands out from its neighbors:

What do you think of our President's official portrait?

Tags: George W. Bush (all tags)

Comments

21 Comments

Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

Actually, I am sure that this isn't his "official" portrait. Official Portraits are usually revealed 3-4 years after the President's departure.

Remembers Bush 41's portrait revealed during Clinton's tenure and Clinton's portrait shown during 2004.

This is the President's official portrait for the National Art Gallery, which is the only institution outside WH that has official paintings of all Presidents, which are different than the WH official portrait.

by American1989 2008-12-26 06:03AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

I'm glad to know that because the official portrait should be of the Chief Executive in his capacity as Chief Executive, not a day at the ranch.

That said, it's an attractive portrait.

by Pottery 2008-12-26 10:54PM | 0 recs
It is typical bush

relaxing like a silver spoon frat boy instead of taking his JOB seriously.

by kevin22262 2008-12-26 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: It is typical bush

Agree.

He looks pretty thick with that simpleton "Goober" smile. And the shirt with the starched flap pockets makes him look like he's trying too hard to look like a "regular guy" and coming across fake as a result.

It sums him up pretty well, actually.

by Bush Bites 2008-12-26 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

Bush hanging out in the White House.

At least it doesn't try to portray him either working or looking presidential.

by GFORD 2008-12-26 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

Posing's hard work! Even for a poser who has had 8 years practice posing as president.

by SuznAZ 2008-12-26 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

I know this is a political site and not a fine arts site, but this topic crosses a line here.

Portraiture is a very sophisticated discipline these days. It goes 'way past just capturing a likeness and blowing it up to fill a third of a wall in a public institution.  

A portrait must also capture the personal style of the subject, and in a way that communicates a sense of presence and credibility. For example; when I look at a painting of George Washington, I not only want to know what he looks like, but also be struck by who he was -- what his personality was like and who he was as a public figure. We still paint portraits (not just snap pictures) because photographs generally do a poor job of taking this next step.  

There's a lot of room for comedy here, and this is one place to gently side-step all the obvious cheap-shots we could make. Caracature is also important; but a portrait emphasizes the reality of a subject, not the comments about the worth of that subject behind his/her back.  

I don't like the Clinton portrait. It is too stiff. It doesn't capture his joy or his competence as a President. The Jerry Brown portrait is a caricature (but I think a good one). The George W. Bush portrait also fails because too much informality is as deadly as too much formality.  The break from other portraits is much too extreme here -- and it adds no information I couldn't perceive from a good photograph.  Bush is a complicated subject because his failures are so glaring.  We need to try again.

blue73

by blue73 2008-12-26 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

Lines are made to be crossed.

by Bugs222 2008-12-26 08:02AM | 0 recs
Mojo to you, blue

... for being the only person so far to bring something thoughtful into the discussion.

I am unqualified to judge the portrait as art, but I think you should consider the quasi-political motivations behind painting President Bush in such an informal pose. Bush's remarks at the unveiling are actually quite revealing. He wanted a forgiving friend to paint the portrait.

In the election of 2000, times were good, much of the electorate was snoozing, and the media was on an eight year faux scandal binge. The big stories of the 2000 election centered on Al Gore's lies, sighs, and disturbing clothing selections, all fabricated by the national media to relieve their boredom with real issues, and help Bush reach the White House. There really were no big negative stories about Bush, until the drunk driving revelations shortly before the election.

The thing is, there weren't any really big positive stories to tell about Bush either. As he revealed his ignorance on just about every subject of national importance, all the media could do was excuse him for it, repeat how likeable he was, and point out what an insufferable nerd Gore was for pointing out that Bush did not even know his own campaign's positions.

So going into election 2000, and at the start of his presidency, all Bush really had going for him was his easy going, plain spoken image. He was the candidate with whom voters wanted to have a beer. It was only after 9/11 that he morphed into the steely eyed war leader image that carried him through the 2004 elections. Now, as 70-80% of the country realizes that his tenure has been the equivalent of a slow motion national disaster, and the Iraq adventure is widely seen as not having been worth the price we paid in lives and treasure, Bush has come full circle. The only thing he has left is to fall back on his likeable-guy image, and hope future art lovers will forget what a horrible president (and human being) he was.

In summation, my opinion is, it is a good portrait of a bad president.

by itsthemedia 2008-12-26 11:10AM | 0 recs
I don't particularly like the Clinton portrait

either, and for the same reasons you stated. Same same for Hillary's portrait, though I think it caught more of her.

Jerry Brown's portrait isn't a caricature, it's just a different style of art. It does make me smile.

As for the W portrait, I agree with whoever said it's a good painting of a bad president.

My favorites are the portraits of JFK and Jackie

http://www.whitehousemuseum.org/floor1/p ortrait-jfk.jpg

http://www.whitehousehistory.org/04/subs _pph/PresidentDetail.aspx?ID=35&imag eID=154

by Swedie 2008-12-26 02:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

His portrait should show him manacled in handcuffs.

by Bugs222 2008-12-26 08:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

"A Picture Of Dorian Gray" is the first thing that comes to my mind.

by voodoochile78 2008-12-26 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

This portrait says:

"Take me as seriously as I took this office."

by lowdog 2008-12-26 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

I love the portrait of Jerry Brown.  I wonder why it is that portraits mostly still look like they were painted in the 18th century and have missed virtually every artistic movement.

by the mollusk 2008-12-26 11:03AM | 0 recs
Jerry Brown

I'm with you: at last, something that acknowledges the last two centuries in art.

It made me smile, and it also recognizes that unique spark in Brown's personality and governance.

by judybrowni 2008-12-26 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

Me, too. That one I really like to look at.

by veggiemuffin 2008-12-27 04:30AM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

Are you sure this is the official portait?  There was one a week or so ago and it was the staid standing pose, suit and tie, etc.  I think this is a second portrait.  He did have a lot of time to sit... could have had a couple more, actually.  He wasn't working.

by Palli 2008-12-26 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

Thanks, I quess that's good since- as a painting it is better than the other one.  Conventions like formal portraits seldom transcend to great  art  unless we can attach the warm fuzzy feelings of nostalgia to them.  It should be in the storage racks at the National ... do you think it is official for the National Portrait Gallery?  That's a great Gallery and the National Archives are right there too...you suppose there are more than shedded strips of paper to represent the last 8 years?

One presidential portrait in my lifetime stands out...the Peter Hurd painting of LBJ- there was scope and sense in that...and the ideas of the painting made me look past the anger of the was and think of the Texas south he turnedjgrew greater than when he believed in the the necessity of civil rights national laws, the War on Poverty, Headstart and the like.  It was a presidential portait that gave LBJ's years in politics a visual context and room for people like me to soften and remembers his good.
...enough of my visual analysis- who cares how Bush wants to look ..we must keep writing, drawing and screaming what he does look and what he does act like.

Is there such a thing as an official VP portrait...now that's a bad visual idea.

by Palli 2008-12-26 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

Really should have "The Scream" there.  THAT would be sooooo appropriate!!

by docpatmac1 2008-12-26 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

I guess this is the portrait that says "I'm a warm human being, a nice guy. Not an idiot."

by Pottery 2008-12-26 11:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Official George W. Bush Portrait

More important than the portrait itself is where it is to be HUNG.

I'd recommend the lavatory in the boiler-room section of the Capitol Building.  Any tourists who want to see it can easily be escorted there.  It would be shown to best effect hanging right over the porcelain pony.  The workers there would be delighted, since it means the maintenance staff will have to start keeping it squeaky clean.

It's to be appreciated that the artist left in a trace or two of the famous Bush hubris...

Don't you just love the above photo, of Bush, grinning and wallowing in his narcissism over it?

Won't it be just GRAND when he's gone?  Like the old joke about the guy who was beating his own head against a brick wall - when asked why he was doing it, he said, "because it feels so good when I stop."  That's how WE will feel in only a few more weeks!

There IS a major flaw.  Since he was elected because he was the kind of guy "everyone would want to have a beer with," where's his pewter stein?  Oh, yeah, he's a former alcoholic, so that won't do, but I know something that'd be even better:  a glass of KoolAid.  Purple, of course.

I only hope that people aren't expecting FAR too much from Obama than any mere human could possibly deliver.  THAT is likely to become a serious problem.  We have built up such high hopes that no mortal could fulfill them all.  For this, he will be castigated, even by his own supporters, when what he needs most to fulfill his goals is HELP - from supporters AND Congress.  He can't accomplish any of his goals without both.

That's unfair, of course, to expect so much from him, but how can it be gotten through to Obama supporters to give the man time and world enough to DO his job?  He's neither a Superman or a Messiah.  He WILL do what he promised, to the full extent of his abilities; I'm thoroughly convinced of that much.  And that alone was reason for enormous optimism, and ample reason to elect him.  Expecting instantaneous results - i.e., miracles - is counterproductive.

Just don't get carried away with it, okay?  If we ride the waves with him, we'll probably find that we elected one of the greatest presidents in history.  So don't crowd the man.

by faster 2008-12-27 08:54PM | 0 recs

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