By Jacqueline Trescott
The choices, which provide the first inkling of the Obamas' artistic taste, are not a survey of American or European art but concentrate mainly on artists who are well known and mainstream. In the residence, for example, are 11 pieces by George Catlin, the American 19th-century painter who specialized in Native American scenes. There are also three works by Josef Albers, the German-born American artist who fled Germany when Hitler closed down the Bauhaus art school; he went on to paint seminal "square" abstractions that were hugely influential on American abstraction. Also acquired are four pieces by William H. Johnson, the 20th-century African American artist whose work ranged from vivid landscapes to scenes of ordinary people.
In addition, the Oval Office is now home to a patent model of Samuel F. B. Morse's telegraph, on loan from the National Museum of American History, as well as several examples of Native American pottery.
The inclusion of almost a dozen pieces by Catlin is sure to reopen the debate that always accompanies his work, namely whether it was a sincere homage to the Native American or a touristy view.
Obamas' Choice of Works On Loan to White House Reflects a Discerning Eye
By Blake Gopnik
With the help of museum curators, first lady Michelle Obama has chosen 45 pieces of art to grace the walls of the White House private residence and offices.
Below: Buffalo Bill's Back Fat by George Catlin.