TIME Arts

George W. Bush’s Paintings of World Leaders Appear to Be Based On Good Ol’ Google Searches

A portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, painted by former U.S. President George W. Bush, is displayed at "The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy" exhibit in Dallas
A portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, painted by former U.S. President George W. Bush, is displayed at "The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy" exhibit at the Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, April 4, 2014. Brandon Wade—Reuters

Art critics point out that 30 of the former president's portraits appear to come from casual online searches

Last week, former President George W. Bush unveiled a new collection of paintings, featuring a series of portraits of world leaders, from Vladimir Putin to the Dalai Lama. The inspiration for many of these paintings appears to come from some very casual Google searches.

Art critic Greg Allen pointed out this trend in a blog post, emphasizing the fact that Bush didn’t take advantage of the many resources available to him:

He apparently did not tap the enormous archive of photos, taken by the professionals who followed him every day for eight years, which are contained in his giant library. Instead, it seems, he Googled the world leaders he made such impactful relationships with himself, and took the first straight-on headshot he saw.

The portrait of Vladimir Putin seen above, for example, seems to be based on the very first image that pops up when you Google the Russian leader’s name. Similarly, Bush’s portrait of Israeli politician Ehud Olmert appears to be based on one of the top Google search results for his name:

A portrait of Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, painted by former president George W. Bush
A portrait of Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, painted by former president George W. Bush. Stewart F. House—Getty Images

The takeaway here? Even George W. Bush relies on Google and Wikipedia to get his work done. Former presidents: they’re just like us!

(h/t The Guardian)

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