4. Self Portraits by George W. Bush, 2013
The art world—nay the whole world—was stunned when images leaked of paintings done by former President George W. Bush earlier this year. Apparently, a hacker found his way across the paintings in Bush family emails and released them to the Web. Of the most remarkable are two self-portraits featuring Bush in the bathtub and shower. Though on first glance the paintings seem amateurish, they were almost universally critically received. Jerry Saltz at New York Magazine said they "border on the visionary, the absurd, the perverse, the frat boy." The fact Bush signs his paintings "43," referring to his lineage in the presidency, stamps these as remarkably self-aware, yet impossibly outsider. The imagery points to issues of transparency, privacy, and the ritual of cleansing. In an interview with Diane Sawyer on the matter, the president said that painting "changed my life." Perhaps if he had taken up the arts during his presidency he wouldn't have advocated for tax cuts that eliminated funding for a significant number of humanities programs.