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Obama Paintings

Installation detail from The Obama Paintings. Courtesy of the artist, Gavin Brown's enterprise, and MOCAD.

Rob Pruitt: The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument
On View: May 15 - August 2, 2015

Rob Pruitt’s The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument will be presented to the public for the first time beginning May 15, 2015. Both works serve as monuments in themselves, as well as examinations of presidential monuments in general. The exhibition will spotlight how images of past presidents are disseminated and function in our society.

Rob Pruitt began The Obama Paintings as a means of tracking President Barack Obama’s presidency. Since Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009, Pruitt has created a two foot by two foot painting of the President every single day, with particular imagery drawn from the news of that day. Upon completion, The Obama Paintings will comprise 2,922 paintings, incorporating such seminal events as his first State of the Union address to seemingly mundane activities. Each canvas is given equal importance, regardless of the traditional metrics of newsworthiness of the moment it depicts.

The process for creating each work in The Obama Paintings is the same: a canvas is covered in a spectrum of red to blue; once an image is selected, often for its aesthetic qualities and composition, Pruitt paints it in white expressionist brushstrokes onto the background. This is further emphasized by the installation of the unframed works in a non-chronological, seamless grid. A work-in-progress, The Obama Paintings takes on new meanings as each canvas is added to the larger work.

The Lincoln Monument uses the most ubiquitous form of presidential iconography - the copper penny - as raw material. The work is made up of 200,000 pennies filling three stacked copper painted truck tires. Odes to public fountains, Pruitt's ongoing 'People Feeder' sculptures are often filled with coins, candy or other offerings, the first iterations having been shown at his 2010 exhibition, Pattern and Degradation at Gavin Brown's Enterprise.

The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument will be presented to the public for the first time in an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), beginning May 15, 2015. The presentation will include a site-specific installation of the work filling MOCAD’s galleries. Curated by Elysia Borowy-Reeder, executive director at MOCAD, the exhibition will offer audiences the opportunity to experience the work- and presidency-in-progress. Related public programs will be offered, including a talk from the artist. A solo exhibition of Pruitt will open the same week at The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, in Connecticut.

Exhibition programming support for ROB PRUITT: The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument is generously provided by the Taubman Foundation and Gavin Brown's enterprise.

MOCAD Operations are supported by Masco Corporation, Erb Family Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding for programming and educational initiatives is provided by the Edith S. Briskin/Shirley K. Schlafer Foundation.

Press Release

Photos from the Exhibition:

Obama Paintings

Obama Paintings

Obama Paintings

Obama Paintings

Obama Paintings

Image Credit: Installation detail from The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument, Rob Pruitt, 2015. Courtesy of MOCAD, the artist, and Gavin Brown's enterprise.

Press for Rob Pruitt's The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument

"Rob Pruitt at MOCAD"
Contemporary Art Daily, July 22, 2015

"The Obama Paintings: Rob Pruitt"
Hunter Braithwaite
Miami Rail, Summer 2015

"Artist Rob Pruitt Has Painted More Than 2,300 Portraits Of Obama (And He's Not Done Yet)"
Kate Abbey-Lambertz
Huffington Post Arts & Culture, June 11, 2015

"Obama-influenced art at MOCAD, Library St. Collective"
Michael Hodges
Detroit News, May 31, 2015

"MOCAD's summer program: Memorializing history versus erasing it"
Rebecca Sharp
Knight Arts Blog, May 27, 2015

"A true portrait of presidency: Rob Pruitt / Obama"
Happening, May 27, 2015

"Painter Reveals 2,307 Obama Portraits (And Counting)"
Sami Emory
The Creators Project, May 26, 2015

"A Painting for Every Day of Obama's Presidency"
JD Rearick
HypeAllergic, May 25, 2015

Michael Slenske
Architectural Digest, May 18, 2015

"Painting the President: Rob Pruitt's Daily Obama Portraits"
Scott Indrisek
Modern Painters, May 16, 2015

"New art exhibit chronicles Obama presidency"
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio, May 16, 2015

"Obama paintings to debut at Detroit art museum"
Associated Press
The Detroit News, May 15, 2015

"Day-By-Day Obama Paintings Debut At Museum Of Contemporary Art Detroit"
Associated Press
CBS Detroit, May 15, 2015

"Artist Has Painted Obama's Portrait Every Day Since He Took Office"
Laura Feinstein
Good Magazine, May 15, 2015

Wall Street Journal
Rob Pruitt Wall Street Journal Print
Click for full print version

"The Artist Rob Pruitt: Paradox on a Pedestal"
David Colman
The New York Times, May 13, 2015

Dan Hyman
T Magazine, May 11, 2015

"Rob Pruitt: This artist has painted a portrait of Barack Obama every day since he took office on January 20 2009 (and he's not finished yet)"
Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, May 11, 2015

"Rob Pruitt's Quirky Perspective"
Kelly Crow
Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2015

"Hail to the Chief"
Maxwell Willaims Cascone
Cultured Magazine, April/May Issue, 2015

"Rob Pruitt's Massive Obama Installation to Debut at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit"
Sarah Cascone
ArtNet News, March 13, 2015

"Presidential and Durational: Rob Pruitt on his 2,000-plus Obama Paintings"
John Chiaverina
ArtNews, March 12, 2015

"Hail to the Chief: MOCAD to show 2,300 Obama portraits"
Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press, Friday, March 6, 2015

"2,300 Images of Obama"
Hilarie M. Sheets
The New York Times, Thursday, March 5, 2015

Greg Fadell

Detroit based artist Greg Fadell will inaugurate the second set of the Detroit Affinities series of solo exhibitions, part of MOCAD's DETROIT CITY program. This exhibition marks the first solo museum exhibition for this artist.

The exhibition will focus on the artist's fascination with art history and its use and role in shaping aesthetic opinions. Fadell’s paintings, sculptures, and video conceptually question how to engage with and measure aesthetic and cultural value and explore what it means to be an artist in the 21st century. Art history is used as an inspiration and a starting point of discovery, and traditional painting techniques are replaced by inkjet prints and chemical solvents. Using appropriation and deconstruction, Fadell seeks to uncover the perceptual bias of aesthetic precedents, object value, provenance, and institutional prestige. Through this critical examination of how art history is mediated and represented via art publications, ordinary museum posters, or a seemingly mundane television show, Fadell adapts factual information and subverts it to create a historical context of his own invention.

Photos from the Exhibition:

Greg Fadell

Greg Fadell, Untitled, 2014, 40.5x27.5 inches, Courtesy of the artist and MOCAD

Greg Fadell

Greg Fadell

Greg Fadell

Greg Fadell

Image Credit: Installation detail from Detroit Affinities: Greg Fadell, 2015. Courtesy of MOCAD and the artist.

Press for Detroit Affinities: Greg Fadell
"Greg Fadell Tackles the Contemporary Art Market in MOCAD Show"
IXITI, June 28, 2015

"Greg Fadell @ Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit"
Ron Scott
Detroit Art Review, May 26, 2015

Detroit Affinities is curated by Jens Hoffmann, MOCAD’s Senior Curator at Large.

As part of:



Currently On View:
Erik van Lieshout
The Basement
July 15 - 31, 2015

Introduced by Filipa Ramos

In 2014, Erik van Lieshout set up a workshop in the basement of the Hermitage Museum to improve the living areas of the large community of cats that has been living in the museum for more than 200 years. The Basement documents this process while following the artist’s unique and idiosyncratic rhythm and methods.


Exhibition programming support is generously provided by the Taubman Foundation.

DETROIT CITY funding is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Kayne Foundation (Ric & Suzanne Kayne and Jenni, Maggie & Saree), Quicken Loans, Andre Sakhai, Liz and Jonathan Goldman, Jane Suitor, Scholar Property LTD, Jasmin Tsou, the Krawiecki Gazes Family, Kimberly Brown, and William Leung.

Detroit Speaks funding is provided by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.