6 ways of looking at George W. Bush, artist

Photographs of some 20 paintings done by the former president have been hacked and released. Are they any good?

Bush's paintings give some critics a view into a side they thought didn't exist in the former president.
(Image credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

In October 2012, we learned that former President George W. Bush has taken up painting, via a New York profile of his younger brother, Jeb Bush. Few people noticed, because America was busy deciding whether to re-elect Bush's successor or pick a new guy. Then, in February the Bush family released the first look at our 43rd president's new hobby: An impressive in memoriam portrait of deceased presidential dog, Barney. (Bush signs all his paintings "43.") A week later, a hacker who goes by Guccifer released a handful of ill-gotten photos of a few more Bush paintings.

This week, Gawker posted two more sets of paintings — 18 total — pilfered by Guccifer from Bush-linked email accounts. These stolen glimpses of George W. Bush's artistic endeavors pose something of a quandary. Analyzing his amateur paintings "isn't the same as, say, reviewing the saxophone playing of Bill Clinton," says Washington Post art critic Philip Kennicott. "The latter played his horn in public and invited us to respond not just to the spectacle of the president in his Elvis mode, but to the playing as well, which was never very good." Bush's were meant to be private, at least for now.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.