On the Today Show Friday morning, George W. Bush finally revealed his long-awaited portraits of different world leaders. Some, like the portrait above of Russian President Vladimir Putin, really capture the soul of their subject. Others... not so much, though they still show an improvement from Bush's Cat Period.
Tomorrow morning, George W. Bush will debut 24 paintings on the Today Show, including portraits of Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair, and the Dalai Lama. To promote the occasion, the former president discussed his hopes and fears as an artist in an interview with his daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, who works as a correspondent for the show.
Everyone's favorite retiree George W. Bush appeared on The Tonight Show on Tuesday, ostensibly to promote his new library but also to show off one of his new paintings, which he gave to host Jay Leno. The painting, a portrait of Leno, marks something of an artistic shift for Bush, who has spent the past several months seemingly painting only animals—specifically, cats and dogs.
A watermelon, viewed from above, casts a greenish shadow on a white table. Two small figures on a putting green are spied from behind a distant tree. A horse with cow-like markings stands in field. Dogs, of course: a Shih Tzu and a Boxer sitting against an electric blue void. A Sheepdog next to a ball. A Corgi and a Lab at awkward, physically impossible angles, splayed out against the ground. And some kind of hound mix, maybe, grey and monstrous, sitting outside the White House, separated from the seat of power by iron bars, staring ambivalently out of frame.
In February, a hacker named Guccifer revealed to the world the hidden artistic talents of George W. Bush, releasing to The Smoking Gun a handful of photographs of oil paintings by the former president that had been taken from personal Bush family emails. The images were well-received by critics and laypeople alike, but they represented only a small portion of the budding outsider artist's oeuvre. Little more was being made available: In an interview with an Atlanta television station, his art teacher said he'd painted "over 50 dogs," tantalizingly few of which were actually shown on the broadcast. Otherwise, the Texan Master was silent. The world was crying out for more Bush art, more raw talent, more lush brushstrokes—more dogs—and nothing was forthcoming.
After gaining access to the personal email accounts of Dorothy Bush, George W. Bush's sister, and several friends close to the Bush family, a hacker apparently obtained Bush family photos, cell phone numbers, security codes, information about George H.W. Bush's health, a post-election email from Fox New's Brit Hume, and, most amazingly, pictures of George W. Bush's in-progress paintings, which are just as awkward and simple as you'd hope. All told, six accounts were hacked, including emails for Barbara Bush's brother, family friend Willard Hemingway, and CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, another friend of the family.