In the Air
Art News & Gossip

In the Air – Art+Auction's Gossip Column

Hacker Reveals George W. Bush’s Surprisingly Good Bathroom Self-Portrait Paintings

Pin It

Though it took an incredible breach of a family’s privacy — a hacker gaining access to seven Bush family email accounts, including those of the former U.S. presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, the Smoking Gun reports — we now have confirmation of long-circulating rumors that the the younger George Bush is indeed a painter, and even a half-decent one.

Two of the Bush Jr. paintings uploaded by the anonymous hacker appear to be partial self-portraits of the artist and former head of state in the bathroom: One shows him from the back in the shower (above), his face partially visible in a hanging mirror, a possible reference to Diego Velázquez’s “Rokeby Venus,” aka “Venus at her Mirror” (1647-51).

The former president’s work, which we’ll call “Bush at his Mirror,” shows the artist standing outside the shower’s jet of water, while an elegant streak of light interrupts the tiles’ strict grid with a bright diagonal. The former president’s textured rendering of his back and hair attest to an affecting level of earnestness that puts his work far past that of another recent celebrity painter, the even more universally despised Chris Brown.

The second bathroom self-portrait (below), which Jerry Saltz rhapsodically proclaimed “the strangest, and the strongest” of the hacked trove, shows Bush legs from the knees down in a half-full bathtub. Once again, his rendering of light is impressive, with a glowing splash of sun radiating from the composition’s upper-left-hand corner. The water effect demonstrates further technical proficiency, the pink of the legs gradually disappearing beneath the gray of the water.

Even more compelling is the former president’s manipulation of perspective, which matches the viewer’s point of view with that of the artist and the painting’s subject, Bush himself. In other words, while looking at this painting — which Animal rightly points out bears strong structural resemblances to Frida Kahlo’s “What I Saw in the Water” (1938) — we are all former president George W. Bush.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Top image: George W. Bush pretending to shake hands with his official portrait at the National Portrait Gallery; via. Bottom images via Gawker.)

Tags: , , , , ,

Pin It


  1. Hahaha the sarcasm is thick!

  2. W’s a better painter than a president.

  3. Calling this painting half decent is indecent.

  4. He needs to work on his anatomy of the back but his foot structure is pretty good. Body in water needs to be worked on though. If he’d just painted during those incredibly loooong 8 years instead of stumbling through his presidency, we might be in better shape. Although I guess with Cheney as second-in-command, we were doomed from the start…

  5. At least he can paint himself looking at himself in the mirror to this day. He can do it with pride.
    He stood his ground whereas todays unvoted in pretend president is a simple puppet.

  6. It appears he has a large pair of breasts on his back.
    Who’da thought it?

  7. Both paintings strategically composed to obscure the implied wanking in progress. So that’s what the “W” stands for.

  8. @kerri levin.
    are you serious or just braindead?
    what are you talking about?
    George WMD Bush and his brood are war criminals and need to be tried and executed for the death and destruction they have caused and which continues because of him and his corrupt and evil administration. these facts are not even debateable.
    ok dunce?

  9. GWB is a genius with his art! I wonder if these pics are thought about or if they were based on pics. I think the first & that would make him a genius for getting the lighting, shading, graduations correct.

  10. well think of dubya’s paintings in this respect. Van Gogh never sold one painting in his life time, very possibly just one. A doctor he gave a painting to used it to cover a hole in his back fence (quite an expensive repair). Look at the works of Grandma Moses or even Jackson Pollack……then you’ll realize even dubya has a chance. I am not an artist but I do love to look through art books and after years of looking at very expensive famous paintings he is not too bad

  11. You of the self-proclaimed “tolerance” class are poster children for the arrogant elitist left. George W. Bush is painting for his own pleasure. He is more successful than are most of you and your claims to be thoughtful, tolerant, human beings. Enjoy your snarky hatred for it is all you have.

Add a Comment