Former President George W. Bush made the big reveal on Today on Friday, coerced by veteran NBC correspondent His Daughter: here, at last, are his paintings of world leaders, in a gallery at his presidential library, as they belong.
There's something almost touchingly perfect about George Bush revealing artwork hanging in a gallery in a building that bears his name, walking through it with a reporter who also shares that quality. It's the isolated quiet life of the artist whose fame precedes his talent by a decade or two. And this is not an exaggeration; interviewer Jenna Bush Hager offered a peek into the iPad app that launched the Bush art career. (See stills of early work at right.)
The exhibit at the Bush Presidential Library focuses on the world leaders Bush has painted. Here are the ones that Jenna managed to wrangle a few interesting words from her father about.
Vladimir "Pooty-Poot" Putin
Note: All identified nicknames were also the work of George W. Bush.
For a few people, Bush weighed in on the non-artistic relationship between himself and the leader. Putin and he had a good relationship that "became more tense as time went on." (After an early meeting, Bush said he looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul, captured in the second image above.) Bush continued:
Vladimir's a person who in many ways views the US as an enemy. And although he wouldn't say that, I felt that he viewed the world as either the US benefits and Russia loses or vice versa. I tried to dispel him of that notion.
What's that? You say this looks like a coloring book image? That's not nice.
Tony "Landslide" Blair
JENNA: Here is your good friend Tony Blair.
JENNA: Has he seen this portrait?
GEORGE: I don't think he has. No telling how these people are going to react when they see their portrait. I think I told him I was painting him and he brushed it off, so to speak.
JENNA: No art pun intended there.
GEORGE: That was an art pun.
JENNA: You think you got to the soul of you?
GEORGE: You're going to have to ask other people who know me better, such as yourself. This is an improvement of the first one I did of myself.
JENNA: The one in the bathtub?
GEORGE: Well, that one that makes me look like Alfred e. Neuman.
Please note: The two Bushes are discussing different paintings here. Jenna is referring to the famous piece Two Feet at the End of the Tub; George, to Man's Face in Mirror. (All artwork titles are ours.)
This, Jenna pried out of her father, was George's favorite portrait. But he was worried what his mother might think of it.
In a surprise reveal, Jenna managed to secure an interview with the woman she calls "Gan." Did she approve of the portrait of Gamps? (Drum roll.)
She did! The end.