Feature: ArtScene

ArtScene - Obama Painting the Towns

By , Columnist
The Obamas arrived in Europe Sunday. A mega tour of diplomacy, fixing Qaddafi and, if there is time, the rest of the world as known by the G8. Curiously, the hit of the tour could be the one thing that holds them all together: the art scene.

In Dublin, the Hugh Lane Gallery reckons after last week's visit by the Queen (one of the biggest art collectors in the world) and now the Obamas, culture is back on the books.

There is more interest in the gallery's John Lavery collection, especially the paintings of his Chicago socialite wife, Hazel Lavery. "Zurich", the painting of her in the snow with her daughter Alice (by her first husband, a doctor who died in a New York flu epidemic) is the most elegant in all the rooms.

The Irish galleries are still hoping for the kudos of a painting or two going on loan to the White House.  But the Obamas have little space left.  Anything new has to line up with their personal preferences, for example, African/American females. Nothing new in this.  The Clinton's chose Simmie Knox the African-American painter from Alabama for their official portraits.

Now we get to London. It's up a gear.

The British government has an art collection worth more than £120 million.  It has 13,600 listed works of art, and when Obama gets to No.10 and climbs the famous staircase he will be stared at by 300 years of British prime ministers.  Maybe he will get a guided tour by Samantha Cameron. She was an art historian before David came along and last time she met the Obamas, she gave them a work by a London spray-can painter, Ben Eine, current value £2,500.

Tonight the Obamas go to a Buckingham Palace banquet.  The Queen has one of the most remarkable collections anywhere in the world including the celebrated Leonardo da Vinci, "The Anatomy" salvaged from the floor of his studio at his death in 1519.

Want to see the collection?  Just go along to the Queens Gallery.  It is still one of the best shows in London Town.

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Fiona Graham-Mackay, is London's newest royal portrait painter. She is also recently back from painting in the Pakistan-Afghan border. She studied at London's Royal College of Art, had a studio in Paris before returning to the UK to paint and teach in London, Spain and Italy. Her next assignments are…

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