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April 4, 2014 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Controversial artist George W. Bush, whose paintings of dogs, cats, and portions of his own nude body were "hacked" and swept the Twitterverse by storm, has opened a new one-man show of paintings, consisting of portraits of world leaders, in a library in Texas. Though political content has not usually been a part of his work in previous years, his interest in the subject matter may stem from his brief stint in public service a few years back.
posted by Cookiebastard (129 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sort of like murderabilia, where the painter is more important than the painting.
posted by stbalbach at 10:24 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]


Yes, if by "sort of like" you mean "in the category of".
posted by goethean at 10:25 AM on April 4 [12 favorites]


We've temporarily taken comments offline as we prepare to deploy our new commenting system based on the Discourse discussion engine. This will provide a better user experience, reply notification and more robust protection against trolls and spam. You will be able to access the new system with your existing account.

lol, nice timing!
posted by jquinby at 10:27 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


I wonder whose job it was to pencil the outlines and write the numbers in the spaces so he would know what color to put in each one.
posted by perhapses at 10:27 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


I can't not imagine these world leaders begrudgingly putting these paintings up on their refrigerators to make him happy.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:27 AM on April 4 [68 favorites]


My mother-in-law is a docent at the library (we have not visited). Now I'll have something to ask her about the next time we see her, though I doubt we'll get to the exhibit itself.
posted by immlass at 10:29 AM on April 4


I'm almost surprised that Tony Blair wasn't just a Blair head on a lap dog's body.
posted by graymouser at 10:30 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


That first link spoke of the bathtub pic as a "nude self-portrait" that he sent to his sister, which makes me really uncomfortable.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:31 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Heh heh heh! An' this one, I did this one of ol' Pooty-Poot! I don't know if you remember him, he was the leader of the USSR for a while there. I looked into his eyes, saw his soul. Pooty-Poot's a good guy. Wonder what he's up to nowadays?
posted by Flunkie at 10:31 AM on April 4 [16 favorites]


They're not horrible, its much better seeing them all than just the Putin one that I saw on twitter. Still can't help but thing of this though.
posted by DynamiteToast at 10:32 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]


You know who also used to a painter?
posted by ouke at 10:33 AM on April 4 [18 favorites]


These aren't bad. I'd like to hear a real, unbiased critic's take on them. Do they show some kind of artistic depth and expression? Or are they just attempted facsimiles of photographs?
posted by cman at 10:34 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


You know who also used to a painter?

Winston Churchill?
posted by yoink at 10:35 AM on April 4 [9 favorites]


"George, I want you to draw me like one of your French girls." - Tony Blair
posted by chasing at 10:35 AM on April 4 [31 favorites]


Holler at me when we uncover his Sonic The Hedgehog fanart
posted by hellojed at 10:35 AM on April 4 [12 favorites]


These aren't bad. I'd like to hear a real, unbiased critic's take on them.

It's just possible this website isn't the best possible place for that.
posted by yoink at 10:36 AM on April 4 [35 favorites]


I wonder whose job it was to pencil the outlines and write the numbers in the spaces so he would know what color to put in each one.

Now, now. While these don't appear to be exceptionally good in their own right, that hardly means Bush the man is incapable of artistic expression just because he was a miserable president. Nixon was an enthusiastic pianist and composed at least one piano concerto. Acknowledging that doesn't imply approving wholeheartedly of his administration.
posted by figurant at 10:36 AM on April 4 [9 favorites]


Disappointed that there is not a dark, foreboding portrait of his nemesis, the pretzel.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:36 AM on April 4 [19 favorites]


Yeah, all the verbiage about nude self-portraits made it sound ... well, like a full nude. The stuff about sending it to the sister makes it sound really gross. Then you click through and it's toes and chest. Damn you click-baity copy. This is not scandalous at all.

I'm sort of charmed by these. Especially Bob the Cat. I mean he's not a great artist, but he's better than I am. Makes me want to up my game.
posted by bunderful at 10:37 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]


They're not horrible, its much better seeing them all than just the Putin one that I saw on twitter. Still can't help but thing of this though.

The likeness is astounding.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:39 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


This guy is tragically sad.
posted by odinsdream at 10:39 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


He's a better artist than he was a President. But I guess that's not saying much.
posted by mai at 10:40 AM on April 4 [11 favorites]


I saw a segment on NBC news last night. I'm no art expert (and no fan of Dubya) but he does appear to have honed his own style. He really did study this medium, worked at it, and developed a personal touch - something I could have never done. But I won't give him anymore props until he paints Cheney with horns sprouting from the forehead.
posted by Ber at 10:45 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


When I started reading the post I thought the controversial artist was some one who assumed the name George W. Bush and not the actual former president. I forgot he started painting.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 10:46 AM on April 4


I was hoping for a series of insanely dark and bleak paintings of the members of his cabinet and advisers.

Still better than Kincaid.
posted by maxwelton at 10:48 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


I'd like to hear a real, unbiased critic's take on them.

I'm an art critic! Let me take a look ...

Well, I've certainly seen worse. These look like the work of someone who is still learning to paint realistically. Everything is a little off -- the color choices, the use of perspective, the compositon, and not is a way that feels deliberate. These don't feel like style choices, but unlearned details. If he is working with an instructor or a decent instructional book, he might sharpen all this to the point that he becomes a competent draftsman and colorist.

The subject matter is trite, but entertainingly so, and, to his credit, his portraits of the Scottish Terrier do convey a sort of essential dog-ness.

But even with improvement, Bush is simply working toward the sort of art that is sold at Starving Artist-style sales. And there's nothing especially wrong with that -- painting is a fine hobby. But his art doesn't have enough to it to really be the subject of discussion, except for the fact that he is the creator, and what the art says about him.

And, honestly, that's a totally valid discussion to have regarding art. There is something interesting about the fact that Bush occasionally paints himself naked in a bath. I'd have to chew on it a little more to know what I wanted to say about that, but it is one of the weirder pieces I have seen a politician-turned-artist do. Jimmy Carter paints, as an example, and there's a pretty strong collectors marker for his work, but it's mostly scenes of nature. To the best of my knowledge, Carter has never appeared in any of his pieces, and certainly not bathing.

Of course, we wouldn't be discussing Bush's art were he not the artist, but that's often the case, and no reason to dismiss the art. That being said, on first blush, his art doesn't really communicate enough to me for me to know what I would want to say about it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:49 AM on April 4 [140 favorites]


"Hey Mr. Satan, before I sign this-here contract so's I can be President, there's one more thing I want to add."

Satan rolled his eyes. "What is it, worm?"

"I wanta be an artist and paint nice pictures!"

"FINE. Cheney, make the revisions and get this idiot to sign so we can get down to business."
posted by emjaybee at 10:50 AM on April 4 [22 favorites]


lol, nice timing!

TPM has had that Discourse message up for several weeks now.

As for W's paintings...I kind of like Bob the Cat.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:52 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


If he was just your slob neighbor he would have a charming hobby of middling, inoffensive paintings. In that case I would find all the snark unfair but because he is an architect of untold human suffering, go right ahead and do your worst internet.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:52 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


I look at them, and I shrug.

Talk about the banality of evil.
posted by Drexen at 10:52 AM on April 4 [26 favorites]


As for W's paintings...I kind of like Bob the Cat.

O.K., that is a legitimately cute pic.
posted by yoink at 10:54 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


The man was a terrible president IMO, but I'm a big enough person that I can look at his art work dispassionately and not mock it simply because he was a terrible president.

>I look at them, and I shrug.

>Talk about the banality of evil..


Yeah, I think that sums it up nicely. Well done, Drexen.
posted by mosk at 10:54 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Sometimes when I'm wide awake tossing and turning at 3 AM, my mind is racing with sad and anxious thoughts, and I feel totally overwhelmed by the amount of suffering in the world and how much suffering I'm directly responsible for as a perpetually ignorant U.S. citizen, I pause for a moment to consider how well George W. Bush is probably sleeping at that very moment, even with thousands of gallons of blood on his hands. And then I feel... fuck, I feel so much worse.

I'm glad ol' Dubya was able to live to see a day when he could spend countless lazy afternoons swirling a paintbrush around on blank canvas to express his inner artistic vision. Would that the thousands of innocent people who have suffered and died as the direct result of his truculent warmongering could do the same.
posted by divined by radio at 10:55 AM on April 4 [22 favorites]


we wouldn't be discussing his art were he not the artist

Agreed. No one's ever accused me of being a fan of Bush politically, but his artwork reminds me of someone who came back from Hobby Lobby weekend before last with a Bob Ross painting kit and a few canvases.

There's an evil part of me that chuckles imagining Dubya's frustration at not being able to "make it look like the picture." I'm mindful of that part of myself, but I give it a little room to wiggle now and again.
posted by Mooski at 10:55 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


This munchingzombie guy is crazy! I ain't no architect! I'm a painter!
posted by Flunkie at 10:56 AM on April 4


I always hoped that if W picked up an arty hobby, it'd be poetry. Ah well.
posted by pie ninja at 10:58 AM on April 4


Or are they just attempted facsimiles of photographs?

It immediately jumped out at me that he is working from photographs. It's not a crime, I've done it myself, but it's an artistic crutch, as the transition from 3-dimensional reality to 2-dimensional representation has already been done for you.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:00 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who wants to see him try his hand at narcocorrido? He's from the right region, speaks at least a little Spanish, and has tons of source material. Dick Cheney shooting some guy in the face and then making him apologize for getting in his bullet's way? Gangsta.
posted by indubitable at 11:01 AM on April 4 [12 favorites]


It immediately jumped out at me that he is working from photographs.

I'm no artist, but the one of him in the shower from behind was what I would call a 'clue'.
posted by Mooski at 11:01 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


I always hoped that if W picked up an arty hobby, it'd be poetry.

"Hmmm, what rhymes with nuclear? Funicular? Spatula? Canicular?"
posted by yoink at 11:02 AM on April 4 [7 favorites]


You pee-er.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:03 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


It immediately jumped out at me that he is working from photographs. It's not a crime, I've done it myself, but it's an artistic crutch, as the transition from 3-dimensional reality to 2-dimensional representation has already been done for you.

Thank heavens. I was wondering about that.

Even though I'm a rank amateur with limited training it was a blow to my ego to think GWB was a better painter than I.
posted by bunderful at 11:03 AM on April 4


Whoops. I reflexively rhymed with the correct pronunciation. Let me try again:

You poo, sir.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:04 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Even though I'm a rank amateur with limited training it was a blow to my ego to think GWB was a better painter than I.

If it helps, you'd probably be a better president than he was.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:05 AM on April 4 [31 favorites]


As someone who has spent a good portion of my life trying to draw faces I would say that Mr. Bush, quite simply, is not seeing what he is looking at. Learning to see, then learning to translate that into some version of technical skill, are the two stumbling blocks he hasn't been able to get around.

And:
...that he is working from photographs. It's not a crime, I've done it myself, but it's an artistic crutch...

Nope. It's fascinating to work like this because the mediums are so different and anything you use to make your art is completely valid because it's about the piece you end up with.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 11:06 AM on April 4 [7 favorites]


I do really like the portrait of Bob the cat in the mirror. Bob looks just like my dear departed Steve, who would play with the Kitty in the Mirror for what seemed like hours (and IIRC, had an adopted grandkitten named Bob with similar markings). He seems to have captured something of the essential feline in that one.

I did rankle at his description of himself as a “go-getter” in last night’s interview, though – didn’t he take second prize for most vacation days of any U.S. President in history? I guess he’s as delusional about himself as ever. I dunno, maybe that kind of imagination will help him as an artist.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:08 AM on April 4


There is something interesting about the fact that Bush occasionally paints himself naked in a bath.
How about:

Bush's paintings of his daily bathing serve as a distant echo of ritual water cleansing, paralleling the carefully underdeveloped technique that imbues his work with a rich sense of Nth generation copy. Bush essentially operates as the latest output of a series of copies of an unknown original dream, without further anchor or grounding in the present reality inhabited by ordinary people.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:09 AM on April 4 [10 favorites]


Mooski: "I'm no artist, but the one of him in the shower from behind was what I would call a 'clue'."

Now I will never be able to say "get a clue! " again with a straight face.
posted by chavenet at 11:10 AM on April 4


Honestly? If all he does is paint and stay out of the speaking circuit and just shut up about politics and such, I'd be happy. He'll never be prosecuted for warcrimes, let him just go away in his own "artsy" way.
posted by symbioid at 11:11 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]


While he's very much a beginner skill-wise, I can't bring myself to bag on him too hard for that. I mean, I'll bag on him a little and already have because, you know, dude was a clusterfuck of a President who caused great harm on a global scale. But still, he's thrown his hat into the art ring and for that I'll give him consideration as an artist.

There's a learning curve to art and he's a big name, which got his work in front of a lot of eyeballs for the novelty value before his style really developed, which makes me feel for him a bit - every good artist leaves a trail of poor-to-middling art in their wake until they've developed their skill, and there are gallery walls all over the country with art that looks just like this, they're just not subject to the same scrutiny and those artists can develop in relative obscurity. I can't imagine it's healthy to have the spotlight on yourself while you're still getting there. On the flip side, guy's probably surrounded by people who won't give him truthful criticism, so maybe he's insulated from that and blissfully going about his business.

That said, I think he made a bad choice in choosing this particular subject matter for an exhibition before his skills developed to the point that he could articulate his unique perspective on these world leaders, because when do you get a chance to see someone who was at the highest level of global politics artistically express their take on former colleagues? I mean, dude was just godawful as a President, but still, that subject matter from that person would make for a compelling, interesting addition to the art world if his skills were up to the task of expressing something truly unique to his experience, so it kinda sucks that he tackled this subject matter when he did and I do hope he revisits it when he's got more of a handle on his technique.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:24 AM on April 4 [11 favorites]


I'm not sure I'd have guessed Blair without the context. The rest at least have a passing resemblance, but none of the features I associate with Blair are present in the painting. I find this odd given how close the two seemed to be.

Anyone know if it's easier or harder to paint a picture of someone you know well?
posted by ElliotH at 11:28 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Honestly? If all he does is paint and stay out of the speaking circuit and just shut up about politics and such, I'd be happy. He'll never be prosecuted for warcrimes, let him just go away in his own "artsy" way.

It's keeping him out of trouble and off the streets. I think it should be encouraged.
posted by bunderful at 11:29 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


Here's a sample.
posted by Eideteker at 11:31 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I would pay good money to commission a painting of one of the Abu Ghraib photos in the style of George W. Bush. I'm not picky. Teju Cole suggested this one (NSFW, degradation of prisoners and nudity). But that composition seems a bit more complex than Bush favors. Maybe the prisoner on a leash (NSFW, prisoner degradation) or the thumbs up (NSFW, prisoner degradation and nudity) would suit Bush's style more. Then again the classic electric torture in a hood image (NSFW, torture) really does fit one of the themes of his presidency.

The Abu Ghraib photographs are some of the defining imagery of Bush's war in Iraq. It seems only fitting that he should recreate them in his new medium. And if he's not willing to do it, maybe we can hire someone to do it for us?
posted by Nelson at 11:32 AM on April 4 [9 favorites]


I mean, look, I certainly can't paint a picture of someone and have the picture resemble that person.
posted by eugenen at 11:35 AM on April 4


Honestly? If all he does is paint and stay out of the speaking circuit and just shut up about politics and such, I'd be happy. He'll never be prosecuted for warcrimes, let him just go away in his own "artsy" way.

Yes - I find this much more tolerable than Blair's revolting appearances as some sort of advisor or even as a guest at Labour events. Every time I see Blair and hear about Bush's painting, I appreciate that I don't have to see Bush trying to set himself up as some sort of peacemaker or elder statesman.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:36 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]


I would say that Mr. Bush, quite simply, is not seeing what he is looking at.

The humorous comparisons to his presidency just write themselves.
posted by happyroach at 11:47 AM on April 4 [7 favorites]


I hope he calls his art show Tragedy Plus Time Equals Comedy.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:56 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


Yes - I find this much more tolerable than Blair's revolting appearances as some sort of advisor or even as a guest at Labour events. Every time I see Blair and hear about Bush's painting, I appreciate that I don't have to see Bush trying to set himself up as some sort of peacemaker or elder statesman.

Technically he has the George W. Bush Institute that could be used for policy-meddling:

Founded in 2009 and headed by Jim Glassman, the Institute uses leading research to develop and implement policies that offer practical solutions to pressing national and global problems.

Concentrating on programs in education reform, economic growth, global health, human freedom, women's leadership, and military service, the Institute works to transform ideas into action to advance freedom and expand opportunities for individuals at home and across the globe.


Who is Jim Glassman? The dude that wrote Dow 36,000. But his Wikipedia bespeaks someone more committed to comfortable sinecures and lucrative speaking engagements than to world-changing, so maybe he'll just hang out at the Northpark Mall eating burritos with W instead of doing any meddling.
posted by emjaybee at 11:57 AM on April 4


This is another HILARIOUS Bush painting. It’s p hard to choose just 1 tbh!
posted by caek at 12:02 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


In a better world, he would be painting these from a prison cell.
posted by Ratio at 12:10 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


CNN had some critics write a little about his art last fall.

I appreciated Mat Gleason's take.
posted by wilted at 12:10 PM on April 4


didn’t he take second prize for most vacation days of any U.S. President in history

First prize! See, he really is a go-getter! At going on vacation. He even stayed on vacation when he was warned about Bin Laden being determined to strike in the US.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:13 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


"didn’t he take second prize for most vacation days of any U.S. President in history"
He had the most. Vacation for a sitting US President however, doesn't mean the same thing it does for us, and his vacation time is not at all what made him a bad president. All it really means is that executive functions of the White House follow the president wherever they happen to be, which is expensive, and it limits how much they can affect legislation while away but the tiny fraction of a cent it costs each of us is nothing next to the stress a sitting president takes on their shoulders on our behalf and leading legislation is not really what a president is for anyway.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:40 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


How long until he has his own Karl Hanselman?
posted by klangklangston at 12:42 PM on April 4


Is it just me, or does the self portrait on the left in the fifth picture down at this link look like Obama?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 12:43 PM on April 4


I wonder why he isn't doing speaking tours like every other former leader in the western world. JK. I don't.
posted by srboisvert at 12:47 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I'm sort of charmed by these.

Let's not forget this was the man that named his little terrier Mrs. Beasley. Horrible president and a felon to boot, but a pretty funny guy.
posted by jpe at 1:01 PM on April 4


[begin petty mode]

In the link to the gallery showing of his work -

Did the gallery also hang photos of the leaders in question so people would be able to recognize who the portraits were of?

[end petty mode]
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:05 PM on April 4


I wish they would have commissioned him to do the official White House portrait of Obama.

In fact, I wish it was the custom that every official White House portrait was painted by the outgoing chief executive, regardless of his/her artistic talent.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:05 PM on April 4 [28 favorites]


In fact, I wish it was the custom that every official White House portrait was painted by the outgoing chief executive, regardless of his/her artistic talent.

LBJ would have hastily scrawled a dick on a napkin and called it a day. Also it would have been a fairly accurate portrait, considering.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:11 PM on April 4 [28 favorites]


his vacation time is not at all what made him a bad president

Oh, I didn't mean to suggest it was. You just don't generally hear the man who takes a lot of vacation time described with the word "go-getter."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:16 PM on April 4


You guys, first people gave him a lot of attention and it encouraged him to go into politics and made him think he was better than he was. Now we're giving him a lot of attention for his paintings and again probably making him think he's better than he is. This is the equivalent of us, as a nation, putting our kids' artwork on the fridge (albeit the one in the basement).
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:23 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


...the interview had more to do with Bush family dynamics than anything else, in a way that made the segment seem like a modern American version of “Downton Abbey.” In this episode, the lord of the manor had taken to his new hobby with the kind of ardent enthusiasm that certain relatives considered slightly unseemly. (At several points, different members of the family expressed “shock.”) Laura Bush appeared, with the tight smile of someone indulging her perhaps slightly misguided husband.

New Yorker
posted by bunderful at 1:23 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


I always hoped that if W picked up an arty hobby, it'd be poetry. Ah well.

"Alas! for the South, her books have grown fewer—
She never was much given to literature
..."
posted by octobersurprise at 1:23 PM on April 4


"Naked" portraits? A little tendentious and overwrought for a couple of paintings that show his back and his legs from just above the knees. Did we all suddenly revert to 18th century standards of nudity...?
posted by mrbigmuscles at 1:29 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Are you saying the paintings were intentionally mischaracterized in order to support a predetermined interpretation?
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:36 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


I haven't seen these images, but my top security analysts tell me they are, in fact, naked, based on reputable reports from the field.

Anyway, we don't want the smoking gun to be a Presidential whang over Washington. We must proceed as though the threat was credible, in the interest of national security.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:38 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Even as I was writing it, that satire was bumming me out.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:38 PM on April 4 [7 favorites]


Even feculent, murderous, lying assholes have some sort of redeeming feature, albeit an unhoned, apparently untrained, puerile redeeming feature.

Maybe, maybe his attempts at art are a way of processing the shit he pulled in office.

Just a thought.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:30 PM on April 4


I am reminded that in a slightly alternative universe GWB would have been a fine retail store manager and nice guy to have as a neighbor, as opposed to an epically bad president. But we play the hand we have, I suppose.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 2:57 PM on April 4 [11 favorites]


I think he got confused and was working off the wrong portrait for Putin.

it looks like he was using this.
posted by winna at 2:58 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Nah, in that universe he would have been the finest MLB commissioner since Fidel Castro.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:05 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Stephen Harper looks like a hipster for some reason.
posted by daybeforetheday at 3:22 PM on April 4


Did we all suddenly revert to 18th century standards of nudity...?
posted by mrbigmuscles at 1:29 PM on April 4


(eponysterical-or-something...)

I can't speak for everyone else who has referred to the nude, naked, bathing self-portraits, but I mentioned it in the FPP with what I hoped would be considered a humorous sense of hyperbole.
posted by Cookiebastard at 3:38 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


NYT on the exhibit.
posted by immlass at 3:44 PM on April 4


what I hoped would be considered a humorous sense of hyperbole.

I wasn't raking you over the coals mang, just meant the posted article. IBtimes must have it out for ol' George as they use the "naked" "nude" terms in this article too.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 4:14 PM on April 4


Oh damn the John Howard one has to go up in the National Gallery of Australia. Gonna call Tony Abbott now and tell him to make arrangements.
posted by Jimbob at 4:58 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


George Bush's paintings: this is the art of Forrest Gump. The comedy of a naive self-portrait apparently helped humanise the man most responsible for the 2003 invasion of Iraq
posted by homunculus at 6:56 PM on April 4


you know who else was an artist?
posted by beukeboom at 7:30 PM on April 4


You know who also used to a painter?

Hitler failed at artistry and succeeded at statecraft while Bush failed at statecraft and succeeded at artistry.

Somehow I think this way has a much lesser body count.
posted by Renoroc at 7:49 PM on April 4


The guy has a nice hobby. Just as I hate the unnecessary ugliness directed at Obama, I don't like it directed at Bush for no good reason.
posted by cherrybounce at 8:19 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


TPM has had that Discourse message up for several weeks now.

Yeah, TPM appears to me to be falling apart over the last year.
posted by spitbull at 8:47 PM on April 4


I liked the cat.

Don't give up your day job, though.

Um...no, wait....
posted by mule98J at 9:11 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I kinda liked the one of Barney, and Bob the Cat was also cute.

The paintings aren't awful, but it is difficult to divorce them from their creator. I might feel more warmly towards them if I didn't know who did them.
posted by MissySedai at 10:33 PM on April 4


Divorced from their context, I would really really like these as folk art. I don't particularly care about the lack of "skill" and I find them very aesthetically pleasing. But yeah...murderabilia isn't an inapt description here.
posted by threeants at 3:53 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


The Guardian has an entertaining review of the paintings.

Excerpt:

The photographic apparatus is totally suppressed in Bush’s paintings, suppressed in favor of a counterfeit studio banality. Their vacancy, their stubborn refusal to offer anything beyond the most basic signal of a famous person’s identity, is precisely what Bush will have wanted. Like the dog and cat paintings, and unlike the shower portrait, nothing is at stake here. It is futile to gaze at these paintings and discover anything of importance about Bush’s foreign policy, or even much about Bush’s post-retirement life. Or if they do, they say only this: both the painting and the policy reflect a man untroubled by outside judgment, certain beyond any doubt of his rectitude and self-worth.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:05 AM on April 5 [6 favorites]


It's just sad clowns, all the way down.
posted by valkane at 5:12 AM on April 5


The fact that Bush has no-one in his life who dares tell him how bad these paintings are is, well, quite sad really.
posted by humph at 5:33 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I want GWB to do like ten more years of this and then come out with some wild abstract piece, all browns and blacks and reds, and then does one a year, progressively more dark. Doesn't title them, just numbers them.
posted by angrycat at 5:41 AM on April 5 [5 favorites]


The guy has a nice hobby. Just as I hate the unnecessary ugliness directed at Obama, I don't like it directed at Bush for no good reason.

This thread is your idea of ugliness directed towards Bush? This must be your first day here.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:39 AM on April 5 [8 favorites]


From the Guardian piece:

One was of the president, nude and from behind, standing to the right of a shower. (He stood outside the stream of water; the blood of 136,012 dead Iraqis will not come off.)
posted by emjaybee at 9:28 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Political cartoonist Matt Bors weighs in on the issue.
posted by JDC8 at 10:10 AM on April 5 [7 favorites]


I really like the portrait of his dog. You can tell how much Bush loved him.
posted by schroedinger at 5:44 PM on April 5


They're amateurish (I'm a better artist than he is, and my skills aren't up to much), but considering that he started from nowhere in 2009 he has made considerable progress.
posted by orange swan at 5:58 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I actually sat next to Neil Bush (W's younger brother) on a flight to Beijing in 2005 (economy class). He had a sketchbook he was working on with him, similar to these types of drawings, and I think watercolors of a similar artistic level to these (as I remember). He told me how he had been getting into drawing and painting in recent years (a family hobby?!)

He was exceedingly polite and personable; told me to make sure I let him know if I had to use the bathroom at any time. He chatted with me a bit and told me that he had been in China before because his dad was the diplomat there, but he didn't say who he was and I didn't ask. I had an inkling, and while he was sleeping I looked over at his profile and realized how much he looked like W. I also saw that he had signed "Neil Bush" on his sketchbook drawings. Upon arrival, I went online and immediately looked up his photo, and it was indeed him!
posted by bearette at 3:23 PM on April 6 [5 favorites]


Are these all acrylic? I bet if he switched to oils he would do much better.

As to demonizing him, I can't tell that the present administration is doing much differently.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:29 PM on April 7


As to demonizing him, I can't tell that the present administration is doing much differently.

Some people take hundreds of thousands of war dead and torture more seriously than you.
posted by Tuatara at 4:05 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


Last time I checked quite a lot of people still deployed in the sandbox. Still plenty of death to go around.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:39 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


I realize I'm being trolled but can't let this slide without pointing out that your blasé dismissal of the Iraq war death count reinforces my original point. You are either incapable of comprehending or caring. The vast majority who have developed these faculties are capable of seeing the difference.
posted by Tuatara at 7:05 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


All I SAID is that there's still troops overseas, Guantanamo is still rolling along, business as usual, etc. But I think we can get back to the mostly lousy art now. He really should try another medium. And forget the portraits, the animal pics are better.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:17 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


Ok, back to the art. I will acknowledge his ability to commit atrocities regardless of the medium.
posted by Tuatara at 7:28 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]


Guantanamo is still rolling along

Because Congress wouldn't let Obama close it.

There may be atrocities you can lay at Obama's feet, but that is categorically and absolutely not one of them.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:12 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


[Maybe let's leave aside the "just how bad is Obama" thing, which is something of a derail?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:54 PM on April 7


Jon Stewart Trashes Cheney (‘The Wilford Brimley of Torture’) and Bush the Painter
posted by homunculus at 10:10 PM on April 7


The fact that the portrait of Stephen Herper looks nothing like the man pleases me to no end.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:50 AM on April 8


I loved the edgy fluffy dog portraits, but shouldn't they be playing poker?
posted by koebelin at 6:51 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


George W. Bush Sourced All His Paintings From Google.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:55 AM on April 9


Shepard Fairey's gonna sue him for stealing his idea!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:16 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


Art Of The Bush School
posted by homunculus at 11:27 AM on April 9


FYI: MeTa.
posted by stebulus at 6:42 PM on April 9


I continue to loathe GWB and will, I expect, until the day I die -- and loathe more the cynical apparatus of power that thrust poor inadequate boo boo into the spotlight -- but after seeing this (sorry, Buzzfeed link, I know, and probably linked upthread but), I actually was moderately impressed with some of his things he made. At least to the extent of thinking 'well, pretty much all of those are better than I could have done, and a few are actually kind of... alive in some artthing way.'

So, yeah. It's always complicated, which is fun.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:41 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Talk about the banality of evil.

Wom't somebody please think about the evil of the banality of the banality of evil ?
posted by y2karl at 7:51 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


I see rehab is going well
posted by Outlawyr at 9:27 AM on April 15


I would have guessed his preferred medium would have been finger based paints on newsprint, rather than oil or acrylic on canvas.
posted by JimmyJames at 4:35 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I was going to say potato stamps, but they probably don't want him around sharp knives.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:47 PM on April 16


The Onion has the last (and best) word.
posted by neroli at 8:13 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Hmmm. I didn't see anyone mention that when asked what his favorite color is Bush said taupe. I find that endlessly fascinating. I mean, who would EVER say that? It's practically a non-color.

This is horrible to say, but it's the truth - they strike me as the work of someone who is brain damaged. That might explain how he sleeps at night.
posted by xammerboy at 9:18 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


How the Bush Family Went From Hated to Hipster: Between socks, biking, and bather-selfie paintings, the Bushes know how to make people forget about their legacy.
posted by homunculus at 3:03 PM on April 22


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