Looking for clues in the secret art work of George W. Bush

The Week

The critics weigh in

When hackers broke into former President George W. Bush’s email last week, they found photographs of unfinished self portraits of the former president in the shower and the bath tub.

Bush apparently sent the photos to his sister, and though they were never intended for public view, the art critics have already weighed in. A president never known for self-introspection, the find has many looking for clues into what the once most powerful man in the world thinks about himself and his record.

SEE MORE: The magnificent filth of politics

The Huffington Post says most formal art critics "were perplexed by the images."

Here are a few reviews:

New York Times: “The two paintings could be said to depict the introverted self-absorption for which Mr. Bush is known. Perhaps, he is trying to cleanse himself in a more metaphorical way, seeking a kind of redemption from his less fortuitous decisions as president.”

New York Magazine: “More impressive than the painting's aesthetic quality is the soul-searching introspection evident in the scene. Bush, slightly hunched, is standing out of the water, staring off into the corner of the shower, as if contemplating past sins that can never be washed away, no matter how much soap you use and how hard you scrub.”

American Prospect: “The vanity of an older man who has maintained a lanky frame is there—he paints his naked torso, finely shadowing those 66 year old back muscles with pride, still taut from years of brush-clearing and bill signing. And yet, he can’t seem to look at himself in the mirror. Nor can he escape himself it seems—the mirror’s reflection is relentless, inescapable. Whatever your take, it’s clear that there’s a lot more than just singing going on in that shower. Even in the quiet inner sanctum of the bathroom, where a man is just a man, George W. Bush cannot escape his past.”

National Journal: “But it’s the paintings that have caught the imagination of the public and of the critics, some of whom profess to like the former president’s work even as they patronize it. It’s because a sensitive Bush, an artistic Bush, a man who paints himself nude and vulnerable, is not the Bush we thought we knew. Although, of course, he did marry a librarian who loves to read. So maybe we should have suspected an artistic temperament all along?”

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