Monday, April 27, 2009

'Messianic' Obama On Display

Many detractors of President Obama claim that he has a "messianic" personality.

They believe that he believes that he is some kind of messiah whose job it is to "save" the rest of us.

Frankly, I think that's an over-the-top assessment of the president. But the belief, or fear, that he has these tendencies is taking hold, especially among conservatives who find his attempts to fix the economy and improve social conditions intrusive and beyond the traditional role of government.

Now an artist has painted his vision of a messianic Obama, a painting that will be on display today at New York City's Union Square.

Michael D'Antuono says his painting, "The Truth" has, during its previous private showings, raised eyebrows and spurred discourse on the nation's current political climate and deep partisan divide.

The 30" x 54" acrylic painting on canvas depicts President Obama appearing much like Jesus Christ on the Cross; atop his head, a crown of thorns. Behind him, the dark veil being lifted (or lowered) on the Presidential Seal.

D'Antuono says the piece is a mirror; reflecting the personal opinions and emotions of the viewer; that "The Truth," like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. D'Antuono expects that individual interpretations will vary as widely as they do in the political arena. The work, he anticipates, will be seen by one viewer at a time behind a voting booth-inspired public installation.

D'Antuono is best known for his iconic celebrity portraits and romantic narratives. This is his first foray into political subject matter.

"Aided by the media, politics has taken a nasty turn in the last decade," he says. "I firmly believe that this is one of the underlying causes of our nation's current problems."


Anonymous said...

I really can't believe this was even painted. I am totally against this disgrace to christianity. If Obama were any kind of man or any kind of American he would not allow this to be publicly displayed. He should ask it to be removed and destroyed it is only fueling the divide. Obama ran on a campaign of being a uniter, yet in just a few short months he has divided our nation. Don't fly off the handle and say Obama didn't paint this, my point is.....since this is a painting of him he should not allow it. He should be fighting it.

Anonymous said...

well lol art is freedom of thought creation and in the USA we have that right...if one likes this or not is subjective one has to agree with a painting an artist paints., is not always pretty ask this artist to not display this piece is would take my back in thought to what the nazi's did or any dictatership...of one does not like a painting then dont look at it...
i do not like this and what it may mean at all ..but i do love the fact that this artist has the freedom to create as they wish!! Thank goodness for that!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Personally I have never been a fan of political art. I have always felt that art should be above politics, but this is a trend in the art world that continues to grow. In Los Angeles it can become very irritating because it becomes propaganda reflecting only one point of view and the artists, who can be very aggressive in marking themselves, will plaster their works all over the city.

Anonymous said...

A painting is a painting, but the problem here is that is exactly how Obama sees himself.

Anonymous said...

"A painting is a painting, but the problem here is that is exactly how Obama sees himself."

JLee Davis

Anonymous said...

I do not know Obama personally JLee, but his actions speak for themselves. (I did not know Stalin or Hitler, but I know what they did. Obama is clearly a narcissist.)

Anonymous said...

To the commenter about the freedom to display this please reread my comment........I said "if Obama were any kind of man or American he would not allow this" this comment being my point. As a leader of a nation of multi religions he should not allow himself to be depicted in this manner. Yes we have freedoms but a person also has a right to not want to be depicted in certain ways, just as I have a right to have a say if someone should paint me without my permission. Him NOT trying to stop this shows me just how he does see himself.

Anonymous said...

How can you cry 'FREEDOM' and then wish to stifle one man's depiction of his expression of freedom?
I agree with Gary. The interpretation of this piece of art is very much in the eye of the beholder. To me,as a non supporter of Obama, it shows the arrogance of the man - that he should even give the impression of being above what many accept him as as the emodiment of something to be deified by many. To his supporters it will represent the image of a saviour.
Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder

Anonymous said...

Your not reading what I'm saying, YES the artist HAS that freedom but Obama also has the "freedom" and the right to say NO as a person IF he were any kind of man/American he would say NO! Your totally missing my point, I am NOT saying the artist shouldnt be allowed this freedom. My opinion of the "artwork" is it should be destroyed and its MY freedom to have that opinion. But Obama should be the one to stand up and say "hey this is wrong do not depict ME in this manner" cause Obama has the right to do this as an American having freedoms. If someone were to paint a portrait of any of you which is offensive would you not have the right to say "NO I dont want this done please destroy this"?

Anonymous said...

Wingnuts sure do have a fascinating collective bent of mind.

Emphasis on bent.

I find this painting disturbing on several levels; mostly because of the death/blood sacrifice implications, which I find so distasteful I'll just leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

I actually really like this work of art, which is interesting given that I loathe the messiah references that come out of the right (but were started with Hillary Clinton supporters during the primary). It's the easiest way to criticize both the man and his supporters, and there is almost no evidence ever offered for the accusations of fetishism. A right-wing columnist in our local newspaper regularly makes sarcastic references to the messianic Obama, and I find that to be the ultimate laziness. Talk about lack of rigor!

So why do I like this painting? I don't know. Maybe just because it's provocative and speaks to this current perception. I actually assume that anyone that good at art must be a liberal (talk about bias!), so I assume he is commenting on the tyranny of the right. I would love to interview him, and I hope you get the chance to do so, Gary. If you do, let us know what he says.

Anonymous said...

The deification of political figures is a common artistic theme since the beginning of culture. In contemporary America, such a sentiment is retrograde and not shared by educated persons, certainly not shared by anyone with the education required to gain public office.

Artists regularly produce exploitive, controversial pieces which have no other aim but to bring attention to themselves in an effort to gain notoriety. It's called 'shock value'. As an art form it lacks maturity and resonance and is typically appealing only to the sophomoric.

synonyms: childish, adolescent, juvenile.

Anonymous said...

I think all politicians have a messianic bent to a point, that they are convinced by definition that they are special, people of destiny, and some of them are quite dangerous ego-maniacs. Bush was like that to a significant extent.

Don Rich

Anonymous said...

To the person who said "since this is a painting of him he should not allow it. He should be fighting it." I doubt with all that is going in this country that this is even on his radar. If it was, then he would surely be criticized by his detractors for wasting his time on things like this when there is so much he has to deal with. Look at the big deal they made over the fact that he made picks for the NCAA basketball. It is art whether one likes it or not.

Anonymous said...

Obama is no messiah.

He is a human trying to do an incredibly difficult job.

Frank Apisa

Anonymous said...

who is one to define art? what is art? what is content? "Content" is idea-based and means (1) what the artist meant to portray, (2) what the artist actually did portray and (3) how we react, as individuals, to both the intended and actual messages.content" includes ways in which a work was influenced - by religion, or politics, or society in general, which has been used for centuries ....obama is a politician and i feel he has a lot of bigger fish to fry then get outraged over a painting created of him by an artist....why do ppl have to panic..if the artist thinks obama is the messiah so what ..if the artist is making fun of him so what.....i find all the reaction very petty ..

DangerRus said...

If this artist was on Paltalk we would rightfully recognize him as trolling.

Anonymous said...

how does the creatiion of a painting turn in to a one trolling? LMAO

Anonymous said...

Why isn't this painting being banned......I would assume that a "crown of thorns" would be too tortureous and too difficult emotionally for all of us to handle.

Anonymous said...

The painting doesn't look interesting or provocative or "controversial." It looks like something I would have done in high school art class.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, thanks for sharing.

In my experiences of observing Obama, and talking to zealous supporters, it isn't Obama that has the messianic complex -- it is people projecting that savior expectation onto him. That is the real danger, I think. I've seen it in several quarters, among several demographics of zealous supporters... among co-workers, on the bus, in stores, room mates, family, nearly everywhere I speak to people, and irrational expectation that 'everything is gonna be okay' now that Obama is here to fix it! I have already seen signs of a terrible backlash from this as people begin to wake up from their emotional intoxication with a reality hangover.

He's just one man. I believe his outer intentions are sincere but the sheer weight of momentum that he is squaring up against will eat him alive if he doesn't enlist the right assistance.

Joshua Michael

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe you Gary that you would put that crappy pic on your site Obama is no messiah.
I know you think he is so dang great & no matter what you say that man was not is not nor will he every be a NATURAL BORN AMERICAN CITIZEN your just another blind person.Maybe you like the fact that Obama wants to turn america into another commie country and he wants to be just like hitler.

Anonymous said...

If the artist wasn't well known before he will be now!!
WTG Mr Artist man !! LOL

Anonymous said...

Is this picture intended sincerely, or is it satire of the Right's digs at Obama, Obama's vision of himself, or Obama's supporters' vision of Obama?

I can't tell just from the painting.

Leeandra Nolting

Gary Baumgarten said...

Update: The public showing of the painting has been canceled

Anonymous said...

One of the great things about being an American is the RIGHT to say we do NOT like something and even, yes, call for a ban on it.

I wonder, would there be such an outcry against banning were this, say, a painting mocking the holocaust? I should hope- sincerely hope- that people WOULD protest it and would demand it not be shown. Why? Because of its offensive nature to a large segment of the population.

I'm told that the artwork has nothing to do with christians or, more specifically, Christianity. Really? Could someone tell me which religion out there- aside from Christianity- believes in a Messiah who died with his arms outstretched?

For months prior to the election, we heard the awarded "messiahship" of Obama put out there. For the most part, we Christians felt it was heretical if not outright blasphemous. But it was a generality at that point.

Am I offended at this artwork? Yes. As an American can I call on those in charge to not put it back out there? You bet. Do they have to listen? Nope.

By the way, supposedly "banning" art - or calling for art to be banned- is a "hitlerian" thing. People who draw that comparison need to talk to the ACLU then- wasn't it they (along with others) who have brought lawsuit after lawsuit banning the Bible from schools?

Hrrrmmmmm...... ;)

-LD McLellan

Vandenplas84 said...

Geesh, what a sick joke. what has the guy actually done except to fool alot of people?