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10/09/2009

Obamas Choose Art for the White House: The Final List Is Revealed

Ed Ruscha. I Think I'll... 1983.

The White House has released the final list of 45 works of art that will adorn the walls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue during the Obama administration. Critics are busy scrutinizing their choices and speculating as to what the First Family's selections may imply. For instance, could it be that artist Ed Ruscha's masterpiece of indecision, I Think I'll..., (containing the words; "Maybe...Yes...", "Maybe...No..." and "On Second Thought"), is reflective of the President's own decision-making process?
WASHINGTON /AP/ -- You can't see it, but there's a quiet cultural revolution under way at the White House. The Obamas are decorating their private spaces with more modern and abstract artwork than has ever hung on the White House walls. New pieces by contemporary African-American and Native American artists are on display. Bold colors, odd shapes, squiggly lines have arrived. So, too, have some obscure artifacts, such as patent models for a gear cutter and a steamboat paddlewheel, that now sit in the Oval Office.
Working with California decorator Michael Smith and White House curator William Allman, the Obamas have borrowed dozens of works from various Washington museums and galleries, being sure to use only items that weren't already on display. "The first lady had clear ideas about what they were aiming for," Allman said.
Harry Cooper, curator of modern and contemporary art at the National Gallery, said the Obama's selections are exciting the art world and should provide a significant boost to the arts in general. "This is great art to live with," he said. "A lot of it is challenging. There are different styles: figurative art, abstract art. A lot of it is avant-garde: It was avant-garde, and a lot of it still is avant-garde."

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[Hirshhorn Museum (HM); National Gallery of Art (NGA); Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM); National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI); National Museum of American History (NMAH)]

LIST OF WHITE HOUSE ART

Located in the Residence:

JOSEPH ALBERS
■ Homage to the Square: Elected II (HM)
■ Homage to the Square: Midday (HM)
■ Study for Homage to the Square: Nacre (HM)

GEORGE CATLIN
■ A Crow Chief at His Toilette (NGA)
■ Camanchees Lancing a Buffalo Bull (NGA)
■ Mired Buffalo and Wolves (NGA)
■ Cheyenne Village (NGA)
■ Grizzly Bears Attacking Buffalo (NGA)
■ Game of the Arrow-Mandan (NGA)
■ A Foot War Party in Council-Mandan (NGA)
■ Ball-Play Dance-Choctaw (NGA)
■ Buffalo Chase, with Accidents (NGA)
■ Catlin and Indian Attacking Buffalo (NGA)
■ K’nisteneux Indians Attacking Two Grizzly Bears (NGA)

EDWARD CORBETT
■ Washington, D.C. November 1963 III (NGA)

EDGAR DEGAS
■ Dancer Putting on Stocking (HM)
■ The Bow (HM)

RICHARD DIEBENKORN
■ Berkeley, No. 52 (NGA)

NICOLAS DE STAEL
■ Nice (HM)

SAM FRANCIS 
■ White Line (NGA)

WINSLOW HOMER
■ Sunset (NGA)

JASPER JOHNS
■ Numerals, 0 through 9 (NGA)

WILLIAM H. JOHNSON
■ Booker T. Washington Legend (SAAM)
■ Children Dance (SAAM)
■ Flower to Teacher (SAAM)
■ Folk Family (SAAM)

GLENN LIGON
■ Black Like Me #2 (HM)

GIORGIO MORANDI
■ 2 Still Lifes (NGA)

LOUISE NEVELSON
■ Model for “Sky Covenant” sculpture (NGA)

SUSAN ROTHENBERG
■ Butterfly (NGA)

MARK ROTHKO
■ Red Band (NGA)

EDWARD RUSCHA
■ I Think I’ll . . . (NGA)

ALMA THOMAS
■ Sky Light (HM)

LEON POLK SMITH
■ Stretch of Black III (NGA)

UNKNOWN ARTIST
■ Chief Jumper of the Seminoles (NGA)

Located in the West Wing - Cabinet Room:

FRANK O. SALISBURY
■ President Harry S. Truman (Harry S. Truman Library)

Located in the West Wing - Oval Office:

LUCY M. LEWIS [Acoma Pueblo]
■ Vase (NMAI)

JERI RECORN [Caddo]
■ Bottle: Intertwining Scrolls (NMAI)

STEVE S. [Iroquois]
■ Jar (NMAI)

MARIA POVEKA MARTINEZ [San Ildefonso Pueblo]
■ Jar (NMAI)

SAMUEL F. MORSE
■ Telegraph Register patent model (NMAH)

JOHN A. PEER
■ Gear Cutter patent model (NMAH)

HENRY WILLIAMS
■ 1877 steamboat feathering paddlewheel patent model (NMAH)

Located in the East Wing:

ALMA THOMAS
■ Watusi [Hard Edge] (HM)

Not yet placed:

MARK ROTHKO
■ No. 17 / No. 15 (NGA)
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