The Obamas’ private quarters at the White House are awesomely chic

The Obamas’ private quarters at the White House are awesomely chic
A James McNeill Whistler "Nocturne," ca. 1870s, although possibly of the impeachable variety. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

[Ed. – Hey, let ’em eat cake, dudes.  No, seriously, check it out at the link.  I am not making this up.]

Considering the epochal achievements of the Obama administration—the Affordable Care Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, the Recovery Act, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and so much more—it seems trivial to append a footnote that reads, “The President and First Lady have a pretty chic dining room, too.” But the fact is, they do. And for anyone who appreciates the power of design, Michelle and Barack Obama’s emendations to the White House speak volumes about the sea change in American culture the two have championed for the past eight years. Adorned with an unprecedented array of 20th- and 21st-century artworks, their private quarters remain an oasis of civility and, yes, refined taste in a political arena so often bereft of both. …

More than any of [designer Michael] Smith’s soigné flourishes—the dreamy Oushak carpet in the Yellow Oval Room, the custom-stenciled abaca wall covering in the Treaty Room, the Peter Schlesinger ceramic urns in the West Hall Sitting Room—it is the art that rings the most clarion bell of modernity in the Obama White House. With many works borrowed from august Washington repositories—the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn and Smith-sonian museums—the remarkable assortment includes pieces by contemporary artists Glenn Ligon, Sean Scully, Robert Mangold, and Pat Steir, as well as by Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, Sam Francis, and Hans Hofmann.

Lest any traditionalists start clutching their pearls over the influx of so much bold modern and contemporary art, it should be noted that the President and First Lady selected an unimpeachable nocturne painting by James McNeill Whistler to hang above the fireplace in their serene, monochromatic master bedroom.

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