The former US President George W. Bush is to publish a book of his work. Portraits of Courage will be published by Crown on Feb. 28, 2017. It will feature paintings of veterans with all proceeds going to a non-profit veterans organisation. The President who signs all of his work with a trademark ’43’ (he was the 43rd President of the United States of America) has previously exhibited his paintings which included a portrait of Vladimir Putin, and a nude self-portrait. Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, will feature 66 portraits of men and women who have served in the military since 9/11.
Carey Dunne wrote on Hyperallergic, there are certain politically relevant themes glaringly absent from Bush’s latest portfolio. For example, “paintings of prisoners held without trial at Guantanamo Bay, paintings of the millions of Americans who lost their homes during the 2008 financial crisis, or paintings of ‘the ghost of the Iraqi child that follows him everywhere.’” An exhibition of Bush’s paintings will be on view starting March 2, 2017, at Dallas’ George W. Bush Presidential Center. All proceeds from the book will benefit the center, a non-profit organization whose Military Service Initiative is focused on helping post-9/11 veterans.
In 2014, Bush explained to his art teacher that he wanted to unleash his inner Rembrandt, and the results are now on public display: a deeply personal gallery of world leaders, focusing on the art of personal diplomacy. His portrait of his friend Tony Blair, which is bereft of the former British prime minister’s trademark toothy smile, was intended to portray “compassion, strength and reliability”. “He’s a pretty good painter. I don’t in any way want to say it’s great art or anything, but he’s not bad,” Lawrence Weschler, author of True to Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney, told the BBC.
“It’s just weird that this guy who once had this incredible power is not interested in writing about what he did or justifying it,” Mr. Weschler added. “No, he’s doing paintings of people he once knew back in the old days,” Bush says he just wants to carry on in the tradition of his hero Sir Winston Churchill (also a mediocre painter). We guess it helps him relax and reflect on his years in power! Glancing at auction records for political leader’s art, there is a ready market for it. Prices have been recorded in the hundreds of thousands for work by Churchill and Hitler. Will W. achieve these sort of prices?