October 09, 2009

the sad thing is that they're not kidding

Via Timothy Buckwalter comes Jerry Saltz at nymag.com on the Obamas’ White House art, and the reaction from art world types.

And just as inevitably, art insiders were disappointed in the choices. … The esteemed if reliably irascible Artnet critic Charlie Finch…wrapped it up by calling the Obamas “as right wing as Bush in the art department.” Washington Post critic Blake Gopnik sneered that some of the taste on view was “mild”. … Are these people kidding? Do they really think the Obamas should have hung (let’s say) a Kara Walker paper silhouette of a slave girl performing fellatio on a slaver who excretes a pickaninny? Do they remember that only a year ago George W. Bush was decorating his office with generic cowboy paintings — plus Saddam Hussein’s pistol? In nine months we’ve gone from generic Western landscapes and photo- realist images of cacti to a painting by one of the most prickly contemporary artists around.

Emphasis mine. Worth reading the whole thing, esp. his take on the Obamas hanging Ed Ruscha’s I Think I’ll… (“what it conveys perfectly is not waffling, but thinking”).

Update: Time.com put together a great slideshow of some of the work that the Obamas picked.