Art and Design | George W. Bush | News

George W. Bush's Self Portraits

Bush1  Bush2

Allegedly painted by George W. Bush. Revealed by a hacker.

NY Mag's Jerry Saltz finds something to like about the former president:

Both border on the visionary, the absurd, the perverse, the frat boy. Each echoes the same isolation in small space. Rumination without guilt. Thought without dark nights. The light in each is soft, subtle, embracing, even oscillating. As if the unreal has become a companion to the painter. The first depicts a man with gray hair standing in a shower looking at himself and us in a small shaving mirror. We see him only from behind, from the waist up. The shoulders are slightly rounded. The features are Bush's. In the mirror is that stare, that empty, happy gaze. His eyes look slightly to our left, as if he can't meet our own gaze and is in a world of his own. The glass shower door echoes the well-to-do nature of the portrait of the stone home. But also the layers of visibility, transparency, fragility.

The other picture is the strangest, and the strongest. From over his shoulder, we see Bush looking at himself in the bathtub. This means we've seen two images of him cleansing himself, in warm water. It's already enough to set you off on fantasies of aloofness, aloneness, exile, and hiding. Bush regards himself. Yet nothing untoward is showing or seen. He is chaste and untouched even when alone. We see his knobby knees and his toes peeking up above the running water. A Freudian will have to tell us why the water is running in both pictures. Private baptism; trying to get clean; infantile ecstasies; purification rituals?


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  1. Are we to believe that inside George Bush ther is a David Hockney?

    Posted by: brian | Feb 8, 2013 2:03:40 PM

  2. Well, first of all let me say I think he was a horrible president... second, I'm definitely not an artist, but I think it is pretty cool that he paints - who the hell knows what the paintings mean.. good for him!

    For Goodness sake though, switch from AOL to GMail and get Google Authenticator... you are a former POTUS ... that makes you interesting for hackers...

    Posted by: MikeH | Feb 8, 2013 2:07:48 PM

  3. The bathtub painting needs a rubber ducky and some fart bubbles to really capture Dubya's inner man.

    Posted by: Caliban | Feb 8, 2013 2:13:26 PM

  4. I expected these portraits to be done in crayon.

    Posted by: David | Feb 8, 2013 2:14:16 PM

  5. I actually think these are amazing.

    Posted by: Paul | Feb 8, 2013 2:18:30 PM

  6. Weird... just like the man.

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Feb 8, 2013 2:19:17 PM

  7. George W Bush will need a lot of baths and water to wash all the blood and gore off of him.

    Posted by: Glen | Feb 8, 2013 2:20:21 PM

  8. I agree with you Paul. I really like these two paintings. Interesting glimpse inside a man that I had despised during his term as the President.

    Posted by: Michael J. Hildebrand | Feb 8, 2013 2:20:31 PM

  9. The stuff from Saltz is the biggest bunch of nonsense I've ever read.

    Posted by: Butch | Feb 8, 2013 2:24:16 PM

  10. These paintings confirm what I've always suspected, but had a hard time accepting: Bush really is just a thoroughly naive simpleton. When he was president, it was far easier to hate him and see cynical motives behind what he was doing, but I really think he was just an incurious idiot who was easily led.

    Posted by: esperando | Feb 8, 2013 2:25:32 PM

  11. Weird.

    First thought was of Frida's "What The Water Gave Me."

    Posted by: John | Feb 8, 2013 2:26:19 PM

  12. I don't understand posting hacked information.

    Posted by: KJ | Feb 8, 2013 2:56:10 PM

  13. Who wants to see more images of a clear egomaniac? This seems like a fraud on many levels.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 8, 2013 2:56:31 PM

  14. talented an artist as he was a president...

    Posted by: betmatthewnyc | Feb 8, 2013 3:05:16 PM

  15. gag a maggot.........

    Posted by: daeds | Feb 8, 2013 3:10:57 PM

  16. Now Bush yet another thing in common with Hilter; both are War Criminals and Bad Artists. Its Almost poetic.

    Posted by: Mike in nyc | Feb 8, 2013 3:15:47 PM

  17. I found George W. Bush's presidency abhorrant, and I detest his politics. That said, if the account published on The Smoking Gun is true, I think that these images are ill-gotten gains, that the former president is probably the victim of a crime, and that it is probably unethical to publish these images.

    Posted by: Chris in MN | Feb 8, 2013 3:48:44 PM

  18. OK, as an artist I have to say I actually like the bathtub painting. It's in a naive style but there's nothing inherently wrong with that.

    It's kind of interesting from a psychological standpoint he chose to depict himself washing at least twice, cleaning, purifying, whatever. A bit of Lady Macbeth going on there.

    The shower painting is... odd. The way the figure is standing it's impossible that you'd see the face in the mirror. Sure, his style is naive so that sort of thing isn't really unusual, but there's something revealing about it too.

    Posted by: Caliban | Feb 8, 2013 3:50:10 PM

  19. Is this suppose to compare him to Hitler? How were these paintings discovered?

    Posted by: anon | Feb 8, 2013 4:20:12 PM

  20. Self-centered. Big surprise.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 8, 2013 4:32:42 PM

  21. Remember he supposedly wrote a poem for Laura? Something about that "lump in the bed".
    A real rainy-sauce feller!

    Posted by: eekahil | Feb 8, 2013 5:46:22 PM

  22. Oh my gosh he's so hot!!!


    Posted by: George F | Feb 8, 2013 8:07:00 PM

  23. Well, he's a Cancer (I know, insert punchline), so it's intriguing that both feature water, as that's the water sign of the Crab.

    Also like a crab, he's self-protecting--neither picture is a full-on portrait, and even though he's supposedly naked, he's surrounded by a hard, protective exterior (a shower, a bathtub), and he only reveals bits of himself.

    Also, since we're doing Freud 101, these paintings (which I have to admit I like) show a certain narcissism--he's only interested in what's directly in front of him, in a very limited world-view. Nothing 'large" or generous about them, or him--no wide-open spaces, no panoramic vistas. (Clinton would probably paint the Grand Canyon, a or a view of the ocean or stars.) They say to me, oddly like John Lennon wrote, "Nothing's gonna change my world." (And the chunk of him we do see is nicely muscled, again underlining a certain vanity/narcissism.)

    Message I take from these pieces: He's secure, he's safe, he's uncomplicated (?), and the rest of the hubbub is far away from him. He wants, or cares, for nothing but himself, in his own little moist echo chamber. (If that's not metaphorical!)

    Posted by: Dback | Feb 8, 2013 8:24:04 PM

  24. The way the mirror is angled in the shower painting , it doesn't look like it's reflecting his own face, but another man watching him from behind. And the weird way he painted his shoulder blades makes them look like senior boobs, or buttocks- his own buttocks, that he cropped out of the image. Yup, that painting says not only "Cleanse me," but also "Take me from behind."

    Posted by: Hank | Feb 8, 2013 8:44:57 PM

  25. I'm not sure which is worse, the art or the amateur psychologizing.

    Posted by: James Peron | Feb 8, 2013 9:13:49 PM

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