Artists Acquisitions USA

A pun fit for the President

A gift from the Rauschenberg foundation is soon to grace the White House walls, only the fourth contemporary work to enter the collection

Rauschenberg’s "Early Bloomer [Anagram (a Pun)]", 1998, will soon hang on the walls of the family dining room in the White House (Photo: © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation)

When Bill Clinton ate here, an august equestrian portrait hung above the fireplace. But now, the family dining room in the White House, which is often used by the President for informal dinners, is to become altogether funkier. Rauschenberg’s Early Bloomer [Anagram (a Pun)], 1998, a gift from the Rauschenberg foundation, will soon grace its walls, becoming only the fourth work of contemporary art to enter the White House Collection. It will join two works by Josef Albers and one by Georgia O’Keeffe.

The new display signals a considerable shift in Presidential taste: when the Obamas first moved into the White House they decorated their private quarters with abstract pieces by living American artists such as Ed Ruscha's I Think I'll..., 1983, on loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Now their preferences are influencing the displays on the State floor of the building as well.

CLARIFICATION: the office of the First Lady has pointed out that Early Bloomer [Anagram (a Pun)], 1998, has been accepted for the nation by the National Park Service for the permanent collection of the White House, and that the work could be hung in the family dining room but other rooms are also under consideration.

The Rauschenberg Foundation's 19th Street Project Space (Photo: Harvey Wang)
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