The Obamas Choose Their White House Art

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Here’s a slide show we put together of some of the artworks that the Obamas have chosen for the family quarters of the White House and parts of the East and West Wings. There’s not much about it that could be called controversial, unless you think that Glenn Ligon’s text piece Black Like Me is somehow shocking because it engages the question of race.

In general, as compared to previous First Families, the Obama choices include a somewhat heavier representation of work by African-American artists, and show an unaccustomed taste for abstract work by major names like Richard Diebenkorn and Josef Albers, and also the undersung Alma Thomas. (But no Norman Lewis, the African-American abstractionist I wrote about in May when the Obamas first started drawing up their list of choices. So much for my clout at the White House.) There’s also a funny Ed Ruscha about decision and indecision, which shows that the Decider-in-Chief has a sense of humor about himself.