What Art to Hang in the White House? Open Thread
Now that the Obamas have settled into the White House, the First Family is focusing on what art to hang on the walls, a thrilling and anxiety-producing prospect for collectors, curators, and artists. What pieces Barack and Michelle decide on has wide-ranging implications: about what art and artists should be on the radar and how much their work is worth. While the couple can hang anything they want in their residence and offices, pieces hung in public places must be approved by the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, which consists of the White House curator and advisory board.I chose three artists (after noting in a comment that didn't make it into the article for some reason that really the Obamas should decorate the White House exclusively with artwork by Winkleman Gallery artists, but...) whom I felt had a political and/or philosophical resonance with the symbolism of the Obama Presidency.
The decision is a tough one, so we thought we’d give the Obamas a hand. We asked 21 of our favorite artists, dealers, curators, and bloggers to tell us what pieces they think should grace the White House walls.
“Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning. In addition to representing Main Street in a small American town, there’s a hopeful, if somewhat somber, feel to this painting. This seems to describe the state of the country at the moment. We’re war weary and very nervous about the economy, but we’re encouraged by Obama’s message of hope and the true breakthrough in our history that his presidency represents.
“Jacob Lawrence’s ‘The Great Migration.’ This series of paintings seems a nice choice for two reasons. First, it is among the earliest major works by an African-American artist to be widely celebrated. It took ages for the entire series to be unified in one institution, which perhaps parallels the struggle it took for the U.S. to unite behind its first non-white president. Secondly, the series itself depicts the struggle of African-Americans to find their way out of the still highly racist South into the Northern, Midwestern, and Western states, in search of a better life after the end of slavery.
“Cy Twombly’s ‘Scattered Blossom’ paintings represent one of our last living legends making astounding contemporary art. The symbolism of including Twombly in the White House is one of embracing the cutting edge. That seems highly relevant for a president whose challenge is to break with so many of the trappings of our past, including our dependence on fossil fuels, our dilapidated infrastructure, our imperialistic arrogance, etc.”
Yes, I've gone a bit more traditional here than one might expect. But that's just because I wanted to recommend work that I felt might actually be selected, so that if it is, I'll look all prescient and what not.
But what would you recommend that Michele and Barack hang in the White House?