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January 16, 2009

TIME’s Obama Already Bearing The Brunt?

Obama TIME Inaug Cover.jpg

Does the TIME Inaugural cover make Obama look a little gaunt, a little aged (neck), not 100% pulled together (collar), with a dullness/tiredness in the (right) eye?

In priming the portrait with “Great Expectations,” is the image necessarily a future projection, as if we’re seeing an Obama not just looking ahead, but already years out and feeling it?

TIME Cover Story.

(9:50 pm. Title change. Slightly edited for readability.)

(portrait: C.F. Payne)

  • Harold Pomeroy

    The wrinkles, collar, and stare off into a Vision For Us reminds me of portraits of Lincoln. It would be interesting to see a photograph from the same angle and distance, in order to see what features were enhanced.
    Harold Pomeroy

  • Karen H.

    Interesting. I looked for photos which served as sources and could only find a couple similar angles on Obama. I think you are right — the painting makes him look tired, dehydrated, and older. But if you look for right-side oriented photos of him, you can also see it’s his least flattering angle.

  • jtfromBC

    From eyes on the prize, to eyes on the PROBLEMS, big time, this time !

  • Susan Abe

    I saw the emphasized wrinkles and weathering, too, but somehow they came across as cragginess, independence, bedrock endurance — all that stuff of the America of legend.
    Barack Obama by Norman Rockwell.

  • ratfood

    Not a particularly accurate portrait, almost a caricature. More Mad Magazine than Time. The focal point seems to be his ear.

  • futurebird

    He kinda looks like ET. But maybe this is supposed to be humble or something?

  • Saleema

    I don’t like this picture of Obama. They made him look too old; he looks like a grandfather. His picture looks cartoonish–yep, ratfood is right, like a caricature. This also reminds me of Rahm Emanuel’s photo, both photos seem to depict a less serious personality. Obama looks tired in this picture.
    I would like to see more optimistic, more serious, determined portrayals of an incoming administration in the visual media. It is a new start for them and for the nation, too. It will be a new experience. Each presidency, each administration is– especially if it’s a first-term presidency.

  • Lucaites

    I think Susan Abe hits the nail on the head. This cover is as much an homage to Normal Rockwell as anything. And in that register they do a pretty good job of capturing Rockwell’s characteristic conventions. In that context it might also be one more (subtle?) attempt to draw connections between Obama and the Roosevelt presidency or at least an earlier time when America’s commitment to “democracy” was as important as its commitment to “liberalism” in the liberal-democratic sense of both terms. I actually think it shows a sense of gravitas (yes, “grandfather-like” but in a way that invites a sense of wisdom, care, judiciousness, etc.) which moves Obama beyond all the pop culture kitsch and celebrity-cult adulation that seems to be engendered these days.

  • thebewilderness

    The artist did something very odd to his nose where it connects with his lip. They also pushed the perspective in an unflattering way that creates the impression of a muzzle.
    It is indeed a caricature, rather than a portrait.

  • wagonjak

    I have noticed a new gravitas to Obama in the last couple of days, as he seems to realize the vast challenges he has inherited from the failed Bush administration…this cover seems to reflect that as much as anything else.
    It’s not a great portrait, but as an artist myself, I know how hard it is to depict a famous person. I was great at caricatures but never tried a real portrait. I think this is pretty right on..O aging right in front of our eyes!

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