Preview of George W. Bush's New Exhibit, 'The Art of Leadership'

Preview of George W. Bush's New Exhibit, 'The Art of Leadership'

Former U.S. President George W. Bush recently unveiled a collection of his portraits featuring numerous world leaders. The art exhibition, on display in Dallas at the Bush Center, revolves around the former president’s personal relationships with world leaders during his time as president. The collection is called, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy.”

There are currently 30 portraits on display, all of which give visitors a glimpse into how critical one-on-one relationships between world leaders are. President Bush said in a statement, “I placed a high priority on personal diplomacy. Getting to know a fellow world leader’s personality, character, and concerns made it easier to find common ground and deal with contentious issues. That was a lesson I had picked up from Dad, who was one of the great practitioners of personal diplomacy.”

A spokesman from the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum told Breitbart Texas that painting is a very new hobby for the former president.

“Bush read an essay by Winston Churchill, Painting as a Pastime, that talked about how Churchill started painting after leaving office,” the spokesman said. “Bush wanted to see if he could paint, too.”

Bush only started painting two years ago, the spokesman added. “In two years he was able to develop the skills he has, but by no means does he consider himself a ‘professional.'”

Bush’s painting hobby was initially revealed in February 2013, after a hacker accessed his email account and leaked several paintings. During an interview with his daughter, the former president said, “I was a little reluctant to put [my paintings] out [publicly], because I’m not a great artist. I don’t want people to think I’m a great artist. On the other hand, I did want to refresh the Bush Center. I want people to come and visit us. We view ourselves as a place where people can learn.”

So far, reviews of “The Art of Leadership” have been mixed. The portrait of Vladimir Putin has unquestionably drawn the most interest from viewers. Bush said of Putin, “I’ve worked hard to have a personal relationship with Vladimir Putin so that when I discuss things with him, I can find areas of agreement — but I’ve also got a relationship such that I can bring up areas of concern without rupturing relations.”

Not surprisingly, the left-leaning media is already attempting to use the exhibit to cast Bush in a negative light. Roberta Smith of the New York Times wrote, “The show reflects an attempt both to burnish the Bush presidency and distract us from its failures, as his brother Jeb, a former governor of Florida, may be readying his own campaign for the presidency.” 

“The Art of Leadership” will be on display at the Bush Center through June 3. Some of the featured portrait subjects include British Prime Minister Tony Blair, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki; and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi.

A collection of photos from the museum were provided to Breitbart Texas.

Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate