Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A mystery portrait of Obama as a young man?

An Ojai couple bought the oil painting, which had been done by an obscure L.A. artist. But their efforts to find out if the future president was the subject have proved futile.

Scrawled on the back is a notation that says: "BARACK OBAMA (casual attire)." Strokes of teal and burgundy provide a vibrant contrast to Obama's even more colorful striped shirt, evoking a late '70s disco vibe.

Indeed, the portrait appears to be the 44th president in his early 20s, casually seated in white slacks and that mod shirt, stylishly open at the collar. Little is known about the artist, Alan Adams, other than that he worked in Los Angeles for many years and, possibly, briefly in Hawaii.

UPDATE: (Feb 7, 2009) A mystery canvas that appeared to be a portrait of Barack Obama as a young man probably will never hang in the Smithsonian.

On Friday, the daughter of late artist Alan Adams said she's certain the subject for the colorful painting was not the future president but a model who posed for a group of fine-art painters in Los Angeles.

The twentysomething man in the oil painting bears a striking resemblance to President Obama, Jennifer Adams Zobelein agreed. But the portrait was probably painted no later than 1974, when her father stopped working with the portrait group, she said.

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