left: The Electric Telegraph patent model, May 1, 1849, by Samuel F.B. Morse. Patent 6,420.
right: Skylight 1973 by Alma Thomas.
Here's a peek at what the Obamas have chosen for the White House!
The list of selected pieces has been hailed as being bold, modern and wide-ranging. All were borrowed from Washington museums, though it was stipulated that none of them should be on display to avoid depriving the public. The Obamas were advised by their long-term design guru, Michael Smith, and White House curator William Allman.
One notable feature of the list of artists is that it veers heavily towards the modern and contemporary, from the second world war almost to the present day. Mark Rothko, whose Red Band was chosen, is the most celebrated name among them, followed by Jasper Johns whose sculpture Numerals, 0 through 9, is included.(...)
Another striking feature is the number of Native American and black artists. Several Native American pieces have been put in the president's working study, the Oval Office.
The black artists include the post-war abstract painter Alma Thomas, and William Johnson who has had four works put up in the Obamas' private residence including Flower to Teacher, painted in 1944 and depicting two African American women, one holding a flower.
Both Johnson and Thomas are dead. But the Obamas have also taken the chance to boost the profiles of living artists by hanging their works in their private quarters (works placed in the public rooms of the White House must be at least 25 years old).