UNPROFESSIONAL: Never do this to a client.

I'm breaking my own rule ~ "never say anything bad about another painter." 

But Nelson Shanks stepped over the line and damaged himself and the entire profession.

 Shanks claims that "other people do it" and that "it is common thoughout the history of art."
But he is fibbing and insults all portrait artists who spend their careets working with integrity.

Bill Clinton's portrait hanging at the National Portrait Gallery in D.C.
Shanks, the Official Clinton portrait painter hid a nasty Monica Lewinsky scandal reference - and additionally refused to paint the President's wedding ring.

Unfortunately Shanks brags about it on this own website saying, "My career doesn't depend on Bill Clinton."

However, I think that his career now depends on his integrity ~ or the lack of it.

Nelson Shanks, the man who painted the official portrait of Bill Clinton that hangs in the National Gallery, apparently cannot control his dislike of the former President ~ or he wouldn't have sabotaged the official portrait.

And he does not hide that fact.

But really, doesn't this tell us so much more about Nelson Shanks than the client he painted and tried to embarrass, insult and humiliate?

Shanks painted president Ronald Reagan - so now we have to ask: Is that the shadow of the Iran-Contra Affair in the background behind Reagan? Or is it merely Homer Simpson? 

If this is just an ordinary shadow ~ is Mr. Shanks telling us that he approves of all of Reagan's actions in office?

Nelson Shanks in his own words: 

"Clinton and his administration did some very good things, of course, but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting."  

"If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things."

"It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him."

Shanks claims that Clinton wanted the picture removed from the National Portrait Gallery, but the Gallery denies that. I wonder what the truth is about that?

Shanks painted the Pope. Is there a hidden reference to the sex scandals and the coverup that shook the Vatican during his reign? If not, why not?

Does Nelson Shanks approve of pedophilia and the abuse of power because he didn't sneak a hidden sex scandal reference into this portrait? Or did he?

It is more than a bit dicey for a portrait painter to pick and choose what "scandals" to showcase. Sadly, it tells us more about the painter - and not much about the subject.
    A political cartoon makes a point about a political issue or event. You'll find them in any daily newspaper ~ look on the editorial pages ~ they're right next to the editorial columns, and across from the opinion essays. 

    Political cartoons are not portraits. They don't belong in museums. They are a very different kind of art form.
The dress shadow wasn’t the only editorializing Shanks did on Clinton's Portrait. He painted the former President without a wedding ring... even though Clinton always wears one. 

However much Shanks hates former President Clinton, putting his personal opinion in a portrait was not what he was hired to do. It is hard not to think less of Nelson Shanks for mean-spirited editorializing in a portrait.

There is a lesson here:

"If you hate your client, do NOT take the commission unless you intend to deliver as expected. It isn't professional to do otherwise." 

More info here.


R.I.P. Nelson Shanks
A fine painter ~ an angry and sad legacy
1937 ~ 2015

News article here.