Changing the Artwork in the White House

Changing the Artwork in the White House

Rachael Grad
Jun 17, 2009

A major Presidential perk is having your choice of amazing artwork. The Obamas are certainly shaking up the artwork in the White House, as they have begun replacing 19th-century still lifes, landscapes, and portraits with bold, abstract, modern artwork. The Obamas have made it known to museums, galleries, and private collectors that they want to borrow modern art by African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and female artists for the White House. Shown here are Richard Diebenkorn's abstract Berkeley No. 52., which the Obamas have borrowed, and an existing work in the Oval Office — Thomas Moran's 1895 landscape, The Three Tetons....

White House decorator Michael Smith and First Lady Obama made a wish list of about 40 artists whose work the Obamas want to display in the White House. They insisted that any White House art loans coming from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden are from the museum's storage collection and not pulled off gallery walls. The Obamas have borrowed Nice, a 1954 abstract by the painter Nicolas de Staël; paintings from German-born Josef Albers's Homage to the Square series; and two table-top bronzes by Edgar Degas — Dancer Putting on Stocking and The Bow.

Shown here is Ed Ruscha's I Think I'll... (1983), which President Obama borrowed from the National Gallery.

Changing the Art on the White House Walls from The Wall Street Journal
• Listen to "Yes We Can Be More Artistically Inclusive" from WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show
Art Goes to the Obama White House from Time

(Images: The Wall Street Journal)

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