Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Will that be smoking or non?

Blake Gopnik had an interesting article in Sunday’s Washington Post talking about the utter kitschiness of today’s portraits of political figures. Over the past 100 years or so, portraiture has migrated from the center of the art world to its margins, and political portraiture has plunged headlong over the edge past LeRoy Nieman, ending up somewhere in the zone of dogs playing poker or Tony Soprano with cigar and horse.

It’s not on the web version of the article, but in the picture-worth-a-thousand-words category, the dead tree version juxtaposed images of a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington with a more recent effort, Thomas V. Nash’s portrait of Newt Gingrich. (I don't yet have the capacity to post images, unfortunately - the Gingrich portrait is about midway down the page.)

I am not a Gingrich fan. But even he deserves better than this, which makes him look like a passive-aggressive maitre d’.