Two new paintings by former president George W. Bush, published for the first time here on Gawker, give us a new window into the ongoing development of the tortured artist/torture advocate—and opens the possibility for a new phase in his oeuvre: cats.
Bush, whose early work in nude self-portraiture quickly gave way to a long "dog period," seems to now be moving through a natural evolution to work on cats. So far, those who have followed Bush through his artistic evolution have seen only two paintings of cats, separated by many dog portraits.
But two paintings, obtained by conspiracy-obsessed hacker Guccifer, represent either side of what art historians might in the future call "the break." The first, an immature work, shows two dogs relaxing on grass; one looks coyly at the viewer while other stares out-of-frame, its face reflecting shame. Together, they might be said to represent facets of Bush's personality—tense, ready for action, eager-to-please, versus reflective, shameful, cognizant of damage done:
But compare the nervous framing and desperate brushstrokes to the assured, confident grid of this, his first feline masterpiece, in which a lounging cat is all things at once: strained and relaxed; yearning and indifferent; brooding but available.
We have now seen all or part of 25 paintings by the former president, and it seems clear that we are standing in the presence of bold new vision in contemporary art. May the cat period be as fruitful, as breathtaking, as charged with energy as the "over 50 dogs."