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No 'Watusi' for Obamas

November 06, 2009|Washington Post

A painting by the artist Alma W. Thomas, which had been selected to go on Michelle Obama's wall in her East Wing office, will no longer be mounted.

"The reason why it was moved was because it didn't fit the space right," Semonti Stephens, the first lady's deputy press secretary, said of "Watusi (Hard Edge)," which had been borrowed from the Hirshhorn Museum.

Stephens noted that the Obamas still "have a piece of [Thomas'] work in the residence. So they appreciate the artist's work." A Thomas artwork titled "Sky Light," also on loan from the Hirshhorn, hangs in the family's private quarters.

Some conservative websites have accused Thomas of plagiarizing the work "The Snail" by the French artist Henri Matisse. The White House denied it was removing Thomas' piece because of those accusations.

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