February 9, 2013

"Bush, of course, is not a formally trained painter, raising the question of whether he is an outsider artist."

"[Jack] Fischer, who exhibits outsider art, which is made by artists who are self-taught or work outside the mainstream art world, said that Bush 'in a sense' fit the definition because he was never interested in having his work looked at or shown."

IN THE COMMENTS: john said:
If he is the same Jack Fischer, art critic, who died in San Francisco yesterday, then his Hitler/Bush comparison must have been his dying words. 
Chuck Currie said:
John - One and the same Jack Fischer dead at 59.

So it's not true that only the good die young.
Let's be careful. I didn't highlight the Hitler point, but there is no sign that Fischer said Bush was in some moral or political fashion like Hitler. He was contacted, apparently because his gallery specializes in outsider art, and he said:
"What immediately comes to mind is Hitler's paintings and the immediate brouhaha that that caused... There's this peculiar sort of interest in a famous figure having painted."
In fact, it is the first thing you think of. Maybe you should refrain from blurting it out. Another thing you can do, once you've thought of that, is to point out that Hitler tried to be an artist and failed. Then he became a politician. When that failed, he committed suicide. Bush became a businessman first, had some success, parlayed that into politics, and when his term ended — as a matter of law, not failure — he graciously disappeared into retirement and took up painting for reasons other than a desire to be recognized as an artist.

The Jack Fischer Gallery has a nice-looking website. You can check out the artists here. Sympathy to the man's family.

59 comments:

David said...

Bush is an outsider in a lot of things nowadays. Kind of counter intuitive at first, but it's a good way to look at him.

newton said...

Can't George W. Bush enjoy a hobby for enjoyment's sake? He doesn't need to sell his artwork - just show it to family and close friends. He doesn't need our "approval" - as if "approval" was something he was seeking with this. He's just... well... chillin'!

His enemies, though, want to ruin everything that bespeaks him - even the little things that make him happy in the privacy of his home and hearth. If they mock him for his - very private - art, imagine how much more he will be mocked and humiliated the moment he becomes "Grandpa"! (That moment is coming very soon.)

Can't this man be given a freakin' moment's peace?!? The Left can't and will not, obviously.

Whoever hacked his account must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and his conviction and incarceration be shown as an example.

Nonapod said...

"What immediately comes to mind is Hitler's paintings and the immediate brouhaha that that caused," he said. "There's this peculiar sort of interest in a famous figure having painted."

Yes, of course, comparing Bush's work to Hilters is the first thing that jumps into ones mind.

ByondPolitics said...

I guess raping someone's intimate thoughts doesn't bother you. Frankly, I'm surprised you would create traffic for it.

Timotheus said...

His portrait of Barney was actually quite good. I think his "self portraits" were meant as a joke.

Hagar said...

A formally trained painter is one trained by other would be painters to paint the way they think he should paint?

Hagar said...

And I do not think his "self-portraits" were meant as jokes. They look to be difficult exercises, and they set me to thinking about Kafka, or something (though I must admit to never having read Kafka, so possibly it is somehing else I should be reminded of.)

dustbunny said...

I liked your Bonnard comparison and the shower painting had a Hockney feel to it. I don't know if it is more interesting that W would be studying those disparate artists or just pulling it out of his hat. Either way they look pretty good.

Ann Althouse said...

"just pulling it out of his hat"

It's okay to say pulling it out of his ass. Especially when he's naked.

ricpic said...

The Outsider Art I've seen is naive, in the sense that there is no attempt made to paint realistically or naturalistically. Bush is actually striving for realism in the painting of his dog (successfully IMO) and even in the "portrait" of his legs and feet in the bathtub.

madAsHell said...

He can't be an artist. He can't join our club. He talks funny, and says things like nu-que-lar.

EDH said...

Art experts and critics contacted by The Huffington Post were perplexed by the images...

"He's bad, but he'll die. So I like it."

Michael Haz said...

What Newton said at 12:19 is spot-on.

What Althouse said at 12:33 is childish. Civility, 'member?

St. George said...

The term Outsider was originally applied only to untrained African-American "artists." In recent years, however, the Outsider genre has grown to embrace all untrained artists, including the mentally ill.

Typically, Outsiders not only have no training but they fit some or all of the following characteristics: Elderly, extremely religious, mentally ill/alcoholic/drug addicted, illiterate or nearly so, from the South, and/or obsessed with the repetitive creation of certain images dealing with animals, nature, patriotism, religion, or sex.

Personally, I consider myself a neoOutsider.

St. George

chuck said...

Loved the comments with their 'Hitler was a painter' references. So now every amateur painter is Hitler? But I understand the temptation, every time I visit the Huffington post, I too am reminded of Hitler an the National Zeitung.

EMD said...

Anne Hathaway is a vegetarian.

Hitler was a vegetarian.

Anne Hathaway is like Hitler.

dustbunny said...

In the photo of him painting in a gym he was wearing a baseball cap so that's the hat.

ricpic said...

Your high heeled shoe paintings get to me, St. George.

CWJ said...

Newton pretty much nailed it. The absurdities are legion. W did not seek to show these or in any way present them for critique. Indeed my understanding is that they are works in progress not finished. The images were stolen from his sister without his knowledge much less consent. The images upon which the critics are commenting are jpegs or whatever of uncertain resolution probably tamped down in order to be easily attached to the email. Not a single critic is responding to the actual originals. And yet, Huffpo found some number of critics to professionally opine upon them as if they were standing in a gallery sherry glass in hand viewing the originals.

I would imagine a true professional would politely decline to comment given the unseemly provenance and unknown quality of the images being presented, and I wonder how many critics did decline. But obviously some number of critics were too ready to grab their 15 minutes of fame to resist.

Bottom line, the whole article is nothing but pseudo-professional navel gazing.

Basta! said...

"the Outsider genre has grown to embrace all untrained artists, including the mentally ill."

I worked for a few years in a hospital that had several psych wards, including locked ones. One day, passing through the lobby, I couldn't help but see an exhibit of psych in-patient art that had been set up. I was taken by a piece called "Baby in a Basket" and wound up buying it, for $10. I suspect this was the only sale they made.

I still have the picture, which has, if I may so put it, a certain insane charm.

BDNYC said...

For some, the temptation to sneer and feel superior to Bush is just too great. They'll sacrifice their professionalism, their sense of decency, whatever it takes. Who cares if it was stolen, intended to be private, and possibly unfinished and a mere jpeg representation? We have a president to mock and a name to make for ourselves with the leftist drones.

pm317 said...

I am pleasantly surprised by his hidden talent. But good for him.

Petunia said...

Good for the museum in Baltimore for refusing to comment and calling this what it is, theft.

Shame on Jack Fischer for the Hitler comparison. How dishonest of him to do so while claiming he was only doing it artistically and not historically. Liar.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am pleasantly surprised by his hidden talent. But good for him.

GW Bush is at the age when a lot of people retire, and seems to be sliding into it with dignity. He has his family, his ranch, presumably still his mountain biking, and now his art work. And, likely some charities here and there.

This seems a lot more dignified than Bill Clinton's money grubbing after he left office, but, then again, he was really too young to happily retire. Still, I would suggest that Bush's retirement from the Presidency is much more dignified than Bubba's, and I don't really think that we need our past Presidents hanging around on the national scene, essentially vying with their successors for popularity and prestige.

edutcher said...

What these morons say in trying to sound condescending and patronizing reflects more on them than Dubya.

Revenant said...

Somehow I doubt that Bush himself is concerned over whether he is an "outsider artist" or an "insider artist".

Just a hunch.

john said...

If he is the same Jack Fischer, art critic, who died in San Francisco yesterday, then his Hitler/Bush comparison must have been his dying words.

furious_a said...

I love that GWB still takes up so much real estate inside liberals' tiny brains.

I'm sure the same way as liberals feel about Bubba

CWJ said...

Petunia,

I was no longer reading closely by the end end of the article and missed the part about the museum refusing to comment. Good for them. But Huffpo sure buried that tidbit.

I wonder if there were others who also declined to comment?

Chuck Currie said...

John - One and the same Jack Fischer dead at 59.

So it's not true that only the good die young.

Cheers

David said...

Hitler also died in his 50's--age 56.

Jack Fischer is (was) like Hitler?

edutcher said...

furious_a said...

I love that GWB still takes up so much real estate inside liberals' tiny brains.

Him and Sarah Palin.

The Lefties are sooo much smarter than both of them, but can't seem to beat them.

CWJ said...

Edutcher,

The left can't beat them because GWB at least refuses to play.

J Scott said...

I think they want a mea culpa ala McNamara so they can finally say, "we was right all along."

Not an unusual thing, I personally have invested way to much in the personal feeling of superiority, and I keep waiting for people to realize, "yep I was wrong." It will never happen though. We are much to rationalizing beings.

Ann Althouse said...

"What Althouse said at 12:33 is childish. Civility, 'member?"

Do you remember my position on civility? I've said it many times.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think they want a mea culpa ala McNamara so they can finally say, "we was right all along." "

Yes, he needs to apologize for that drone program.

tiger said...

From Professor Althouse: Hitler was a politician and 'When that failed, he committed suicide.'

This is the most succient(sp) description of 10 years of world history that resulted in untold destruction and millions upon millions of innocent deaths.

Professor I'm not ripping you in the least- just amazed at the power of words to condense misery beyond understanding into one sentence.

Mike said...

President Bush is to portrait art what President Obama is to constitutional law.

MnMark said...

You know one thing that G.W. Bush has that none of these left-wingers do?

Class.

quizbowla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
quizbowla said...



"In fact, it is the first thing you think of."

The first thing I thought of was Eisenhower, our most accomplished (so far) ex-president/painter.

I tend to keep Hitler's biography out of my head, though. There are 42 other rascals to whom our presidents more directly compare.

SteveGW said...

The first thing I thought of wasn't Hitler, it was Winston Churchill - he was famously a keen recreational painter and bricklayer.

SteveGW said...

The first thing I thought of wasn't Hitler, it was Winston Churchill - he was famously a keen recreational painter and bricklayer.

Henry said...

The first thing I thought of was Churchill's paintings, but that's just me.

Reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon. Stereotypical artist being nagged by stereotypical wife. She says "Sure Churchill paints and Eisenhower paints, but that's not all they do."

Palladian said...

I'm a professional artist and teacher, and the first thing I thought of was Pierre Bonnard, then I thought of Winston Churchill. I thought of Hitler only when it was mentioned by someone else, mostly because I don't think of Hitler as an artist at all, more as a postcard colorist.

Amartel said...

"There is no sign that Fischer said Bush was in some moral or political fashion like Hitler" - there doesn't have to be. All that is required is to mention "Hitler" (not Churchill or Eisenhower - an actual American President- that he must know about since he specialized in outsider artists). One Hitler reference and the obsessively progressively programmed drone mind clicks on Hitler=Bush.

McGehee said...

"In fact, it is the first thing you think of."

Speak for yourself, Ann.

Billy Oblivion said...

In fact, it is the first thing you think of.

No, no it isn't.

Billy Oblivion said...

SteveGW: How is one a recreational brick layer?

Billy Oblivion said...

@Althouse:

Yes, he needs to apologize for that drone program.

That's ridiculous.

Under the Bush administration the drone program was used for surveillance and attack of military that would have either been attacked with "conventional" aircraft or artillery, or that we would have been unable to attack with precision.

Over 70 nations have some sort of drone program running, mostly for surveillance at this point but most will be "weaponizing" them as they figure out how.

There really is no moral difference between an F/A18 with a human in the cockpit using a wireguided munition on a mud hut, and a drone piloted by a guy in shorts and a T-Shirt 10000 miles away using a wireguided munition on a mud hut.

SonnyJim said...

My first thought was of Churchill as well.

My Uncle Mike the Cop was a recreational bricklayer. He spent his working hours busting heads in Jersey City. He spent his relaxation time building porches and decks for friends and relatives.

Christopher said...

In fact, it is the first thing you think of.

And by that you must mean, it is the first thing that you thought of.

Madison effect.

David Pinto said...

SteveGW said it first, but the first thing I thought of was Churchill as well.

KBK said...

Bush's work is characteristic of an artist that hasn't yet produced a thousand works. He shows quite a bit of talent, and if he keeps at it, he might surprise people.

Very few artists these days are formally trained in the traditional sense. The main requirement is to be able to write an impressive description of one's "art", using all the correct buzz words.

Micha Elyi said...

Put me down as another "thought of Churchill first" sort.

Unknown said...

====Yes, he needs to apologize for that drone program.

That's ridiculous.=====

I believe Althouse was being sarcastic.

Tom Perkins said...

Prof. Althouse, you've said two things here I have to object to vehemently.

No, it is not better to use the phrase "out of his ass" because he is naked. In fact, that makes it far worse. Far, far worse.

And no, Bush has nothing to apologize for with respect to the use of drones abroad to kill Al Qaeda.

There is no more a trial required to kill a terrorist legitimately than there is a guilty verdict required for an infantryman to fire on the enemy, or more analogously, for artillery to fire on direction from credible reports from surveillance. I see no evidence the use of drones is less discriminate or less proportionate than that. The most efficiently arranged for death we can afford them is the process they are due, same a schlub conscript trench dweller in a pickelhaub--even if such was also an American citizen. There's nothing about Al Qaeda that makes it constitutionally more privileged an enemy than others we have had before.

Uninterrupted the terrorists kill civilians by tens and hundreds, and when they can by thousands, and this is their intent. "Civilians” are killed by remotely operated drone operators only by accident and happenstance when in fact it happens, certainly doesn’t happen every time, and many of those “civilians” are fully aware of the danger they invite on themselves and their loved ones, as they shelter those they know to be terrorists.

With the Congress having authorized military action, war, to stop Al Qaeda; the doctrines of hot pursuit and the requirement that foreign nations be plausibly in charge of the their own territory before we respect their territorial right to apprehend war criminals are at work. They fully justify our use of drones to kill terrorists on the soil of nations with whom we are not at war.

No need to apologize at all.

Tom Perkins said...

@ 2/10/13, 5:55 PM

I hope she was being sarcastic, I don't have any faith she was.

Robert Holmgren said...

Geez I was at Jack Fischer's gallery a couple weeks ago and chatted him up.