Obamas Select Art for White House; Media Analysis Ensues


News traveled down the wire yesterday that the golden First Couple — celebrated for their intelligence, poise, and fashion sense — have at last selected the artwork for the First Abode. Seeing as how they get pick of the litter from Washington museums, and their White House home is enormous, things could get seriously contemporary. Maya Lin installation? Claes Oldenburg Geometric Mouse? Man Ray’s African art photographs? Well, no. Though the Obamas’ picks, culled mostly from the Hirshhorn and the National Gallery of Art, are fairly mainstream, the art collection comprises a greatest hits of modernist works that have what Harry Cooper calls “wall power.” See what they selected after the jump.

The White House released a list of 45 artworks chosen by Michelle Obama and a team of curators and advisors to adorn the rooms of the First Family’s palatial residence. Josef Albers‘ colorful Homage to the Square series will hang in the private wing along with 11 pieces by dark horse candidate George Catlin, plus Sam Francis, Winslow Homer, Jasper Johns, and Edgar Degas. Below, a few selections for the Obama’s tenure at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Hanging in the Obamas’ living quarters is Berkeley No. 52 (1955), an oil painting by 20th century American painter Richard Diebenkorn.

Alma Thomas was a prominent mid-century abstract painter and the first African-American woman to have a solo art exhibition at the Whitney Museum. Her painting from 1963, Watusi (Hard Edge) is on loan to the Obamas for their temporary collection.

I Think I’ll… (1983). Associated with the Pop art movement, multimedia artist Ed Ruscha was included alongside Lichtenstein and Warhol in the 1962 landmark exhibition at Pasadena Art Museum.

Homage to the Square: Midday (1954-57) by Josef Albers is one of two of the Bauhaus artist’s works loaned to the White House from the Hirshhorn collection.

One of the edgier pieces on loan to the Obamas is a 1992 work by Glenn Ligon, Black Like Me #2, a text-based painting greatly informed by the artist’s experience as an African-American gay man living in the United States.

Tell us; what art and artists would you like to see represented in the White House?