Decorating the White House with Smithsonian Art

Continuing a Washington tradition, the Obamas selected artwork from the Smithsonian collections to hang in their historic home

The tradition of Smithsonian museums loaning art to the White House began in the 1940s. (iStockphoto)


(Maura McCarthy)

Alma Thomas
Acrylic on canvas
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Alma Thomas, the first African-American woman to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum, was linked to the color-field school that had developed in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s. In Watusi, Thomas is trying to mix together different styles such as Henri Matisse’s cutouts. “She was also interested in the idea that color could generate musical correspondence,” Brougher says. “It was more than creating an abstract painting but trying to create music out of painting.”


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