With Obamas, art changes on White House walls

Was2124324The US First Couple has taken 47 works of art on loan to decorate the White House, displaying a taste for modern and contemporary art and works by minority artists.

Art selected by President Barack Obama — the first African-American US president — and Michelle Obama from five galleries include works from the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn, a sculpture gallery.

They include pieces by seven black artists, including one by Glenn Ligon, a conceptual artist who explores issues of politics and race in works made of text, photos and neon.

A vertical piece selected by the Obamas was “Black like me N°2,” a riff on a 1961 book by white journalist John Howard Griffin who darkened his skin and then wrote about his experience as a “black” man in the racially segregated US south.

“Harlem Renaissance” painter William Johnson is favored with four pieces, while Alma Thomas, a top African-American woman artist, is represented on the abstract painting front.

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Pictured: US President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive at the ‘We Are One’ concert, one of the events of Obama’s inauguration celebrations, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on January 18, 2009. A galaxy of stars including Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Stevie Wonder will usher Obama into the White House, with a half-million people expected to brave the cold to celebrate the first African-American president. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)