As we parade into election season, any second spent thinking about anything other than politics seems downright un-American. Keeping that in mind, don’t be surprised if our listicles over the next few months have a surprisingly political bent. Don’t you want to know Mitt Romney’s favorite artworks? Well, you’ll find that out next week. This week, we take a snapshot look at the White House’s art collection. When Barack Obama first took office, there was a flurry of excitement surrounding which artworks he would add to the White House. What do these works tell us about Barack—and Michelle? Well, it’s hard to tell, so we paired each painting with a quotation by one of the Obamas. Read through this slide show and you’ll almost certainly learn something about the presidential couple you didn’t already know.
1. Ed Ruscha, I Think I’ll …,1983
Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken
In, sprinkled with ashes,
Pop switches channels, takes another
Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks,
What to do with me, a green young man
Who fails to consider the
Flim and flam of the world, since
Things have been easy for me.
Finally, on a personal note, Michelle and I are grateful to the entire Bush family for their guidance and their example during our own transition. George, I will always remember the gathering you hosted for all the living former Presidents before I took office, your kind words of encouragement. Plus, you also left me a really good TV sports package. I use it.
Image source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America
3. Richard Diebenkorn, Berekeley, No. 52, 1955
Equal to the impact you have on each of us every day as individuals is the impact you have on us as a society. And we are told we're divided as a people, and then suddenly the arts have this power to bring us together and speak to our common condition.
You know who else has a cheery sense of humor? Barack Obama. From his memoir The Audacity of Hope:
If I’d been born to a tribe of hunters, this talent of mine would be pretty worthless. I can’t run very fast. I’m not particularly strong. I’d probably end up as some wild animal’s dinner.
Keep ‘em coming, Prez.
5. Alma Thomas, Sky Light, 1973
The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it. Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation.
With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter.