In order from Washington to Trump, a gallery of big, full-face presidential portraits done in exuberant strokes and spatters.
Less venturesome in subject matter than her woman-focused Limitless (2018) and characterized by the same legibility issues, this is a step sideways rather than forward for Tinari. More style than substance, it’s unlikely to achieve her stated intent (except in the most literal sense) to “add some splashes of bold, bright color to our US story.” That color comes largely in isolated highlights of purple, red, or another single color added to the broadly brushed grayscale portraits. The sparse snippets of fact that are lettered or lightly stenciled around each portrait or printed on facing pages are too scattershot to reveal much about each president’s public or private character. Along with leaving Jefferson off Mount Rushmore while identifying the other three carved there, for instance, the author lets out that he “popularized French fries and ice cream” and “owned over 600 slaves.” While she mentions (but neglects to unpack) the confusing claim that Andrew Johnson “WAS impeached but WASN’T removed from OFFICE,” for Bill Clinton she notes only that he presided over “1 of the longest periods of peace and economic expansion in American history.” The closing table of additional facts has a similarly arbitrary air.
For all that it’s up to date (for now), of more artistic than historical merit. (Informational picture book. 7-10)