The Obamas’ White House Art Heavy on Color, Craft

10/07/2009 10:59 AM |

Morse Telegraph

Yesterday, Michelle Obama and a team of Washington, D.C. museum curators released the list of 45 artworks and artifacts that would be loaned to the White House during the current administration. Between the slideshows assembled by the Washington Post and the New York Times, you get a sense that they had three major priorities: American history (like the George Catlin frontier paintings and portrait of Truman), African American artists (especially Alma Thomas, but also Glen Ligon and William H. Johnson) and, happily, abstract modernism (like Richard Diebenkorn, Josef Albers and Nicolas De Stael).

My favorite—aside from the fact that they picked up an Edgar Degas bronze sculpture in the mix because, well, why not—is that they’ll be blessing one room with the 1849 patent model of Samuel Morse’s electric telegraph (pictured). Hopefully that’ll go on the Oval Office desk. Other pieces I hope will end up facing Obama at his desk are Ligon’s amazing “Black Like Me No. 2” and Ed Ruscha’s “I Think I’ll…”, which is probably the most passive modernist artwork ever made.