February 05, 2004


"Universities are a forum for diverse ideas and intellectual challenges," according to Ricardo Viera, director of the Lehigh University Art Galleries in Pennsylvania:

The photograph confronts anyone walking through the lobby of Lehigh University's humanities building: A man who could be President Bush's identical twin smirks for the camera, his left hand cupping the breast of a leering woman in a negligee.

The 4-foot-by-4-foot image — part of a satirical exhibit called "The Forbidden Pictures, A Political Tableau," by internationally renowned photographer Larry Fink — has upset student conservatives who see it as further evidence of a liberal bias on campus.

In an essay accompanying the five vivid photographs, Fink makes clear the target of his satire. He says the 2000 presidential election was stolen, criticizes the "fundamentalist neoconservative conspiracy," calls Bush a "frat boy with charisma" and refers to "our current fraudulent leaders, George W. and his cabinet."

Fink told The Associated Press the woman in the Bush photograph can be seen as a metaphor for the entire world — and "George is groping at this particular metaphor. I think that would be appropriate for what we were doing in our foreign policy: Groping without any good understanding of what we were doing and taking advantage of our imperious power."

On the contrary; the groper seems to have an excellent understanding of what he is doing, and the gropee -- a metaphor, perhaps, for the liberated citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan -- appears to be enjoying it.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 5, 2004 01:53 AM

Wow! Talk about your controversy! The entire downtown AltArt community will soon be abuzz when they learn Larry Fink - the maestro of daring, iconoclastic edginess - has thrown caution to the wind and created a daring series of pieces that actually lampoons their beloved George W. Bush!

Take that, conventionalism!

Posted by: iowahawk at February 5, 2004 at 02:22 AM

Looks like the SuperBowl© half time show to me.

Posted by: Wallace at February 5, 2004 at 02:38 AM

Consider this:

When it's Bush, it's a metaphor.
If it was Clinton, it would be reality.

Posted by: Bob at February 5, 2004 at 02:42 AM

I think I'm going to become a lefty artist since I don't have any discernable artistic ability. It seems pretty easy though -- dump some red artificial coloring into a pool and attach a photograph of a female suicide bomber to the mast of a toy boat and you've got art. Take a photograph of a George Bush lookalike copping a feel and you've got art. I can do that.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at February 5, 2004 at 03:23 AM

That's wierd. I went to Lehigh, and it was a seriously conservative school when I was going there (almost 20 years ago now. Hold on, let me stop sobbing). This sort of thing would never have shown up. Of course, then there was an appreciation of actual art as opposed to this crap.

Posted by: Paul at February 5, 2004 at 05:18 AM

I think I should put up my own metaphorical piece of art next to it.

It will bea lifesize replica of Saddam Hussein feeding someone into a plastic shredder. Next to it will be the genius artist who created the George Bush groper art. There will be a look of orgasmic rapture on the artists face.

Now that's art!

Posted by: Quentin George at February 5, 2004 at 06:48 AM

I don't know what y'all are upset about, I like the metaphor. We're about to give the world some "sweet, sweet luvin" as Chef would say.

It does raise a few questions: Will we respect the world in the morning, and does the world even care? Is the world a slut, or is she in love?

The guy across the table must be France. Obviously PO'd cuz he's not gettin any.

Posted by: Arnold at February 5, 2004 at 07:12 AM

The problem with satire (and parody) is how real you make it.

I have seen comedy skits lampooning, say, greenies, and they went too far - what we saw was basically a greenie, a realistic portrayal. Still funny to some, but the greenies watching it wonder where the humor is.

This photo would appear to portray W as young, virile, attractive (to the girl), forceful, and a winner - he's got the girl don't he?

Most people will go away with that as the received message. Strangely, each one of those notions is officially un-PC to the committed. It indicates to them what a corrupt moron GWB is - virile, attractive, forceful winner - what a prick!

And they wonder why the rest of us don't get it ...

Posted by: Arik at February 5, 2004 at 07:41 AM

Arrrgh! I'm another disgusted Lehigh alum. Thank goodness I don't give a red cent to those scumsuckers currently running the school. First they eviscerate the engineering school, now they let the humanities hippies start running the show. And all to make Club Rauch (the biz school) look better.


Posted by: Doug Stewart at February 5, 2004 at 02:08 PM

That is simply beautiful. Touche! I hate fake political art, even when I was in college I was never impressed by cheap shots I would see on campus. I can't stand when art is explained to me--in fact that's one of my criterion to establish if it is art--if you have to explain it to me, it's not art. Art is a visual experience that needs no explanation, much like listening to classical music. You do not need it explained.

Posted by: PC Martin at February 5, 2004 at 02:10 PM

Double the budget of the NEA?? No - TRIPLE IT!! We can afford to send this moron to the Earl Shrieb School of Painting. Who knows - maybe there's a house painting job in his future? Then he can work his way up to passport photos!

Posted by: David at February 5, 2004 at 02:14 PM


Awww...I thought this was a Janet Jackson thread...gotta quit looking in my JunkMail box and reading the headers...must be giving me ideas...

Posted by: Timothy Lang at February 5, 2004 at 02:31 PM

Let's see.... If the turkey was a fake, then the breasts are obviously implants, right?

Posted by: Eric Scheie at February 5, 2004 at 03:03 PM

You are all complete philistines - especially you, Tim - and wouldn't understand modern art and its complexities in a fractured world of lies, deceit and lack of grants if Tracey Emin got up and bit you on the butt.

Get a life the lot of you, and leave artists alone.

No-one is asking you to look at, let alone understand, modern art.

Posted by: where'smygrant at February 5, 2004 at 03:54 PM

Heh heh. I just noticed this ad on the site:

"Olympia Ebooks

$1 Literary and Erotic Classics from the Fabled Olympia Press"

What up? Pics of GWB groping titties and Erotic Classics? I thought this was a family blog!

Posted by: Sortelli at February 5, 2004 at 05:27 PM

I'm aiming for the cultured and artistic demographic, Sortelli. This blog is headed upscale!

Posted by: tim at February 5, 2004 at 09:32 PM

a metaphor, perhaps, for the liberated citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan -- appears to be enjoying it.

Susan Block will get you for that.

Posted by: Andjam at February 5, 2004 at 09:39 PM

I'll give them credit, it's a lot better than a crude portrait of a bloody-faced George Bush framed in a toilet seat. The latter is a bit of challenging and edgy fun that someone entered into an amateur art show at a local school. Such a remarkable confluence of fearless artistic talent and profound political thinking comes along but once a generation.

Posted by: Bryan Costin at February 5, 2004 at 11:39 PM

Go to the Lehigh Art gallery page http://www.luag.org/pages/viewfull.cfm?ElementID=10 and read the background by the eminent Mr. Fink:

It was time – the election was stolen, robbed by middlemen on top. Folks who thought the past was the future because they owned the present. Entitlement didn’t come from being lazy; it came from cunning aggrandizing connivance.

The leader was a twice entitled frat boy with charisma informed by homily and stubborn gotcha comfort.

I suggested to the New York Times Magazine (whose rear end is sometimes gifted with fashion spreads) an idea to replicate the [Weimar] period but loosen it, update it, and tell it anew. There were fashion equivalents and certainly moral and historical ones.

Oh the glee! They said yes. I suggested that rather than the corpulent Weimar German types, why not use our current fraudulent leaders, George W. and his cabinet. Oh the glee! They said yes. Political satire and critical acuity are something rarely if ever done in fashion. Yet another coup.

We searched for the cast of dancers, whores, merry makers, and priests. We searched for the lookalikes of our own Mr. G.W. and his consortium. We found it all and went to work. Five paintings chosen from the period and three days shooting them, interpreting them, and creating aesthetic clarity and political bedlam.

The work was to run in the Times on Sunday 9/16/01.

9/11 gave birth to doom. The tragic inevitable moment, the rupture of providence, the rape of the external soul of America. And its aftermath.

Critical images of the president and his men would not be published. In fact, all critical thought was temporarily suspended ...."

Curses, foiled again! If it hadn't been for those pesky Al-Qaeda guys, we would have gotten away with it!

Posted by: Jacko at February 6, 2004 at 05:29 AM

Thanks Jacko for the artist's statement. I at first thought that Mr. Frank was merely a talentless poseur, but I was mistaken.

He's also an illiterate idiot.

Thanks for setting me straight!

Posted by: Christopher Barr at February 6, 2004 at 05:58 AM

I'm aiming for the cultured and artistic demographic, Sortelli. This blog is headed upscale!

I'm cultured! I'm artistic! And I like boobies, too. Woo hoo!

Posted by: Sortelli at February 6, 2004 at 08:43 AM