Tales from the Trail

Obama’s world — a peek at White House art

October 7, 2009

Anyone who has tried to find just the right art for just that particular spot at home knows how difficult the search can be.

So we thought we’d take a look at the selections for the White House home of President Barack Obama. Of course when you’re president you get to decorate with art loaned from major museums. USA/

The New York Times online has a slideshow of some of the presidential art.

A dozen of the artworks in the White House private quarters are by George Catlin, an American painter whose specialty was portraits of Native Americans in the Old West, on loan from the National Gallery of Art.

The next largest in quantity are four by William H. Johnson, a 20th century American artist known for scenes of African American daily life, on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

One intriguing selection is Edward Ruscha’s “I think I’ll…” is a portrait of indecision with its words “Maybe… Yes…” and “On Second Thought” and “Maybe… No.”

The New York Times declared it a “Bold and Modern” White House and The Washington Post looked at the politics of the choices.

What do you think of  the first couple’s taste in art?

And click below to see the full list of artwork in the residence and elsewhere in the White House.  One piece by Mark Rothko has yet to be placed.

Loaned art in the Residence
·         Josef Albers – Homage to the Square: Elected II – Hirshhorn Museum
·         Josef Albers – Homage to the Square: Midday – Hirshhorn Museum
·         Josef Albers – Study for Homage to the Square: Nacre – Hirshhorn Museum
·         George Catlin – A Crow Chief at His Toilette – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – Camanchees Lancing a Buffalo Bull – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – Grassy Bluffs – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – Mired Buffalo and Wolves – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – Cheyenne Village – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – Grizzly Bears Attacking Buffalo – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – Game of the Arrow-Mandan – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – A Foot War Party in Council-Mandan – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – Ball-Play Dance-Choctaw – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – Buffalo Chase, with Accidents – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – Catlin and Indian Attacking Buffalo – National Gallery of Art
·         George Catlin – K’nisteneux Indians Attacking Two Grizzly Bears – National Gallery of Art
·         Edward Corbett – Washington, D.C. November 1963 III – National Gallery of Art
·         Edgar Degas – Dancer Putting on Stocking – Hirshhorn Museum
·         Edgar Degas – The Bow – Hirshhorn Museum
·         Richard Diebenkorn – Berkeley, No. 52 – National Gallery of Art
·         Nicolas De Stael – Nice – Hirshhorn Museum
·         Sam Francis – White Line – National Gallery of Art
·         Winslow Homer – Sunset – National Gallery of Art
·         Jasper Johns – Numerals, 0 through 9 – National Gallery of Art
·         William H. Johnson – Booker T. Washington Legend – Smithsonian American Art Museum
·         William H. Johnson – Children Dance – Smithsonian American Art Museum
·         William H. Johnson – Flower to Teacher – Smithsonian American Art Museum
·         William H. Johnson – folk Family – Smithsonian American Art Museum
·         Glenn Ligon – Black Like Me #2 – Hirshhorn Museum
·         Giorgio Morandi – Still Life – National Gallery of Art
·         Giorgio Morandi – Still Life – National Gallery of Art
·         Louise Nevelson – Model for “Sky Covenant” – National Gallery of Art
·         Susan Rothenberg – Butterfly – National Gallery of Art
·         Mark Rothko – Red Band – National Gallery of Art
·         Edward Ruscha – I think I’ll . . . – National Gallery of Art
·         Alma Thomas – Sky Light – Hirshhorn Museum
·         Leon Polk Smith – Stretch of Black III – National Gallery of Art
·         Unknown Artist – Chief Jumper of the Seminoles – National Gallery of Art

Loaned art in the West Wing
·         Frank O. Salisbury – President Harry S. Truman – Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri – Cabinet Room
·         Lucy M. Lewis (Acoma Pueblo) – Vase – National Museum of the American Indian – Oval Office
·         Jeri Redcorn (Caddo) – Bottle: Intertwining Scrolls – National Museum of the American Indian – Oval Office
·         Steve S. (Iroquois) – Jar – National Museum of the American Indian – Oval Office
·         Maria Poveka Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo) – Jar – National Museum of the American Indian – Oval Office
·         Samuel F. B. Morse – Telegraph Register patent model – National Museum of American History – Oval Office
·         John A. Peer – Gear Cutter patent model – National Museum of American History – Oval Office
·         Henry William’s 1877 steamboat feathering paddlewheel patent model – National Museum of American History – Oval Office

Loaned art in the East Wing
·         Alma Thomas – Watusi (Hard Edge) – Hirshhorn Museum – East Wing

Not yet placed
·         Mark Rothko – No. 17 [or] No. 15 – National Gallery of Art

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Segar (first lady Michelle Obama cuts ribbon during re-opening ceremony of renovated American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York)

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