News & Politics

Hunter Biden’s Paintings: What Do Art Experts Think?

DC gallerists are not impressed.

Photograph of Biden courtesy of Democratic National Convention

Hunter Biden: son of the President, center of conspiracy theories, author of an upcoming addiction memoir . . . and successful abstract artist? The younger Biden gets much less ink for his canvases than for his controversies, but he’s actually serious about his work, and his first solo gallery show is reportedly in the works in New York City. Which makes us wonder: Might a Biden exhibit also head to DC?

A self-taught artist, Biden makes celestial designs by blowing ink through a straw onto paper. (You can see some of his artwork here). At the moment, his pieces aren’t publicly for sale. But if he did want to offer them in Washington, he might encounter resistance. “There’s nothing unique about his work, and I have far better abstract painters,” says Margery Goldberg, who owns Shepherd Park’s Zenith Gallery. “The only reason in the entire world this guy [might get] a show at a New York City gallery is because he is the President’s son. They wouldn’t have touched him with a ten-foot pole.”

When we showed some of Biden’s output to art consultant Siobhan Gavagan of Shaw’s Long View Gallery, she was supportive but unimpressed. “I don’t know if it would be enough for me to even go on a studio visit,” she says. “But, you know, good for him.”

Of course, galleries aren’t the only places to show art. We’re assuming an exhibit at the National Gallery isn’t forthcoming, but what about, say, the Reach, at the Kennedy Center, which had a show of George W. Bush’s paintings? “I cannot say if we would host an exhibition, as each exhibit is looked at separately, within the context of the Center’s work, mission, and availability,” says a spokesperson (who adds that the venue hasn’t been approached on Biden’s behalf).

If that doesn’t pan out, perhaps there are other options. “I have to be honest and say it’s nice as decoration that would work well in a hotel,” says American University art professor Don Kimes. “It’s a Bed, Bath & Beyond kind of thing.”

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Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture. Originally from Rockville, she lives in Logan Circle.