Rejoice! Our 44th president got himself put on a shower curtain this week!
No, seriously, that’s some Tacky ugly shit. I tried to find a “contact sheet” of all the presidential portraits so you could see how badly this one stands out, but Wikipedia won’t list the last four in their article. The artists were privately employed so the images are not in the public domain. Who knew?
The best bit is watching snooty snoots like the New York Times try to pass this off as a work of…something other than tasteless eye rape. The cringe!
I know about his two different mock recreations of Judith Beheading Holofernes, substituting black women for Judith and white women for Holofernes. Meh. I went to art school. Nay, thou canst not shock me with irreverence. You’da thunk that would take somebody out of the reckoning for a presidential portrait, though, but oh well.
No, the REAL best bit? Kehinde Wiley — the ‘highest paid artist of his generation’ — may not even have painted it himself. He maintains a studio in China, where four to ten ‘assistants’ do the grunt work. Like paint the pictures.
There’s nothing new about artists using assistants—everyone from Michelangelo to Jeff Koons has employed teams of helpers, with varying degrees of irony and pride—but Wiley gets uncomfortable discussing the subject. “I’m sensitive to it,” he says. When I first arrived at his Beijing studio, the assistants had left, and he made me delete the iPhone snapshots I’d taken of the empty space. It’s not that he wants people to believe every brushstroke is his, he says. That they aren’t is public knowledge. It’s just a question of boundaries. “I don’t want you to know every aspect of where my hand starts and ends, or how many layers go underneath the skin, or how I got that glow to happen,” he says. “It’s the secret sauce! Get out of my kitchen!”
I assume he once painted his own pictures, in their entirety, in a similar kind of style. For some reason.
Oh, hey, Michelle’s is a corker, too. Not as aggressively tacky, but the likeness is awful.