The Obamas and Art

left: The Electric Telegraph patent model, May 1, 1849, by Samuel F.B. Morse. Patent 6,420.
right: Skylight 1973 by Alma Thomas.

What would you choose to display in your home if it had 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, and you could pick almost anything currently housed in Washington, D.C., museums?

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).

source above, but more here, here (many others).


iheartpaish said...

I love this Veronica. Thank you.

patience said...

ya great post

miné said...

i'm surprised no vintage african fertility statues? please investigate further.

Veronicahhh said...

There are several contemporary African-American painters, but nothing "vintage".

I did find this at mediamatters:

As AFP reported earlier this week, the president and first lady have borrowed 47 works of art from five galleries to decorate the White House. AFP went on to describe the art:

They include pieces by seven black artists, including one by Glenn Ligon, a conceptual artist who explores issues of politics and race in works made of text, photos and neon.

A vertical piece selected by the Obamas was "Black like me No. 2," a riff on a 1961 book by white journalist John Howard Griffin who darkened his skin and then wrote about his experience as a "black" man in the racially segregated US south.

"Harlem Renaissance" painter William Johnson is favoured with four pieces, while Alma Thomas, a top African-American woman artist, is represented on the abstract painting front.

In addition, many earthenware pieces and other works by Native Americans were chosen.

In hoping this is helpful,