A couple of days ago, a posting of a YouTube video by a Facebook friend caught my attention. The video, called “The Forgotten Man”, is named after the painting itself. The video is narrated by the artist, Jon McNaughton, who states that it took him a long time to decide whether or not to paint such a controversial painting, but he eventually decided that as an American, he “could not be still” and “had to do something”.
The painting shows a lone male sitting on a bench, clearly distraught over his future. The man represents every man, woman and child in America. Behind him stands every president in U.S. history, some of which, as the artist explains it, changed the country for the better, others who changed it “for the worse”.
In the background, you can see the White House with its flag lowered at half-staff. At the man’s feet, dollar bills and famous documents lay scattered on the ground.
However, the most striking image of this painting is Barack Obama, standing in the foreground aloof with his arms folded and his attention focused away from the subject of the painting… with one foot standing on the U.S. Constitution. The look on his face shows that he either isn’t aware he is doing it, or that he just doesn’t care.
James Madison, the author of the Constitution and 4th President of the United States, is shown just to Obama’s left, clearly distraught over Obama’s seemingly indifferent attitude to his actions.
The artist wonders aloud just what our founding fathers and past presidents would have thought of today’s politics and how it has affected our country.
By visiting the artist’s website, McNaughton Art.com, you will be able to see this powerful and incredibly detailed painting up close. By moving the mouse cursor around the painting, you can see a brief biography of each president that the cursor is over. Be sure to have a look at the White House, the flag at half staff, as well as the numerous dollar bills and documents scattered on the ground, including the controversial S.B. 1070 bill (Arizona Illegal Immigration Law). All of them are explained. Take note that you may have to lower the zoom level on your task bar in order to see both the painting and the bio to the right of the object you wish to view. I recommend around 75% zoom.
As you may imagine, Mr. McNaughton has received both numerous praises and criticism for his work, some of which he replies to on his website. I can’t help but wonder what President Obama would think if he were to see this painting for himself.
While you’re visiting the website, I highly recommend you have a look at another painting of his, “One Nation Under God”. Like the previous painting mentioned, it too is greatly detailed, and is interactive as well.
There are numerous paintings by the artist that are also available for sale on the website, including the two mentioned above, which are available in canvas reproductions, or much cheaper print versions.
By all means, if you have some time on your hands, stop by the site and have a look!
“The Forgotten Man”: Youtube Video posted by “SethAdamSmith”, 09/07/2010
McNaughton Fine Art Company: Official Website of Jon McNaughton
“The Forgotten Man” Painting: Interactive Painting by Jon McNaughton
“One Nation Under God”: Interactive Painting by Jon McNaughton