an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

A Conservator’s BlogBack: Are the Purported Bush Paintings a Hoax?

Independent NYC conservator Leonora Paglia

Independent NYC conservator Lenora Paglia

When you’re dealing with a self-proclaimed hacker, how can you ever be sure that the information and images you get from such a dubious source are reliable?

CultureGrrl reader Lenora Paglia, a paintings conservator in New York (and evidently an amateur detective on the side), closely scrutinized the online images of putative Presidential daubs and responded to yesterday’s post—The Bush Paintings: Saltz and Smith as Hacker Flacks:

Are we certain these paintings are actually by George W. Bush?

I notice that in the photo of him actually at work, he is shown in his home, painting on a nice new metal easel, which I would expect. However, the two bath pictures are displayed on two different beat-up old wooden easels, which are covered with paint marks, like a poor art student’s. Would the former President be using such an easel? Also, notice how tentatively W paints—and yet at least one of the wood easels shows hasty-handed marks.

I wonder if the paintings are a hoax!

Giving further credence to Lenora’s imposter theory, in my opinion, is the fact that the canvas Bush is seen painting in the photograph distributed by the hacker looks nothing like the fanciful, loosely painted bath pictures that tickled some art critics. It more closely resembles the generic church scene that you’d expect of a competent Sunday painter. (I’m not publishing any of the images, because I don’t want to be a party to the hacker’s theft.)

I’m starting to think that “Guccifer” (as the hacker calls himself) deliberately set us up with the photo to bolster the (possibly mistaken) notion that the other images came from the same hand. Then again, do we even know for sure that the guy in the photo, who is seen from behind, is actually the 43rd President?

Taking this speculation one step further, the hacker himself could be a frustrated artist who has now managed to achieve international notoriety and acclaim from top critics for his previously ignored work.

Moral of story: If you get into bed with hackers, you may end up taking a bath.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misspelled Paglia’s first name as “Leonora.” Can I blame that on the hacker too?

an ArtsJournal blog