George W. Bush’s Painted Atonements. George W.
Bush looms small in memory. The Presidency fit him like grownup clothes on a toddler. He made, or haplessly fronted for, some execrable decisions, but hating him took conscious effort. The aircraft-carrier landing was kind of cute, if you squinted your conscience. “Heckuva job, Brownie” was guileless to a festering fault.
The mission has resurfaced. Which brings us to a surprisingly likable while starkly disturbing new book, “Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.” The quality of the art is astonishingly high for someone who—because he “felt antsy” in retirement, he writes, after “I had been an art-agnostic all my life”—took up painting from a standing stop, four years ago, at the age of sixty-six. President Bush sent these men and women into harm’s way, and they came back harmed—often minus limbs from I.E.D. and mine explosions—and, in all cases, traumatized to some degree.
Nothing is Hidden - September 24, 2014. Nothing is HiddenIn David Lynch's new exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the mundane and macabre come together.
The Cretan Paradox - November 12, 2014. The Cretan ParadoxIt's riveting and highly influential, but El Greco's work never quite fit.
Could the reason lie in his birthplace? El Greco is confusing. He is one of the few universally acknowledged great artists of history who does not fit into any of the established art movements or categories. Given his time period (late 16th – early 17th centuries), his art should fit into the early Baroque. But it does not. El Greco, by contrast, painted unnatural bodies. Except, there is no evidence that El Greco had any interest in spiritual visions or mystical ecstasies. What to do with an artist who slips through every explanation? El Greco is the artist who came from nowhere and never quite fit in. El Greco, then, came from an island that is at the very heart of the story of Mediterranean civilization.
These are old stories, ancient memories. The Minor Miracle of John le Carré’s ‘A Most Wanted Man’ « My favorite line from any John le Carré novel (at the moment, at least; it changes all the time) is from Little Drummer Girl: “Somewhere in every bomb explosion there is a miracle.”
He was writing about an investigation into an explosion at an Israeli diplomat’s home in Germany. It’s one of the few explosions I can recall taking place in his novels, even though most of them are set during the Cold War or the lukewarm-to-radioactive conflicts that followed it. Never mind the lack of explosions, though; his writing is full of miracles. A Most Wanted Man is minor le Carré, and the film version of the novel is a minor le Carré adaptation.
Don’t take that the wrong way: This is the man who wrote Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy — probably the greatest espionage novel ever written and the basis for one of the greatest spy stories ever filmed (the seven-part 1979 BBC miniseries starring Alec Guinness). Every few years, someone tries to make a le Carré novel into a movie. The Reviews Are in For Bush’s Paintings. On Friday, the George W.
Bush Presidential Library unveiled the former president’s show of 24 world leader portraits and the art world had plenty to say about it. The paintings on view in “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy” have already been compared to Alex Katz, Luc Tuymans, and Forrest Gump. Now that the dust has settled and the reviews are in, here’s what critics from Roberta Smith to Alastair Sooke wrote about Bush’s blockbuster show.
Roberta Smith for the New York Times: Portrait of a failed president: Inside the art of George W. Bush. Former President George W.
Bush’s first public art exhibit, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” opened at his presidential library in Dallas on Saturday. The left largely greeted his never-before-seen portraits of world leaders with a mix of derision and fascination. It would be easy to merely rag on these paintings. Of course they’re terrible; Bush is an amateur painter, and very literal-minded. Commentators have compared the works to coloring-book images and kitsch. No, George W. Bush’s paintings tell us nothing about Iraq. Correction: This article originally attributed a critique of the Bush paintings to Philip Kennicott which was actually made by Greg Allen “When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject.” – Winston Churchill George W.
Bush’s art teacher believes in his passion. “His whole heart was in it,” said Bonnie Flood, a Georgia-based artist who reportedly spent one month — six hours a day — teaching the former president to paint.