39Too sweet39 to be Putin's work 2009: Art Russian

39Too sweet39 to be Putin's work

What is art For Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, art is a chance to offset his well-earned image as a repressive bully at both

home and abroad. As the London Telegraph recently reported, "Mr. Putin has reinvented himself as an amateur artist." That "amateur" commanded a remarkably high price for his first auctioned painting. Mr. Putin's pastel work entitled "Pattern," which portrays two frost-covered windows looking out at snow falling on a nighttime Ukrainian landscape, fetched roughly $1.3 million from a Moscow art dealer at a St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) charity event. Telegraph art critic Richard Dorment was impressed, writing: "With remarkable economy he contrasts the warmth, light, and gaiety of the interior with the cold and darkness beyond." But don't assume that piece can paint out the bad-guy reputation of the former Russian president who still appears in charge of that still-dangerous nation. After all, Adolf Hitler was a watercolor artist. And a Russian artist who wisely remained anonymous told the Telegraph: "A leader who demands that the world play by our rules could hardly have painted such a picture. It looks as if it was painted by a sentimental woman. It is too sweet you can feel it in the brushwork and the palette. The core theme is feminine, too." That's a bold charge considering the former KGB agent's notorious hypersensitivity and vengeful record.

That unnamed artist must hope that while we may never know who really painted that pretty picture, Mr. Putin will never know who said, "It looks as if it was painted by a sentimental woman."

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