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Post art critic sees 'love world' in photo of Obamas hugging


This is a lot to take in. A lot.

The official Obama campaign Twitter account sent out a photo on election night of the President and the first lady hugging. Washington Post art critic Philip Kennicott analyzes it in a piece headlined "Obama photo is a snapshot of a modern, equal marriage" (emphasis mine):

[T]he photograph has a remarkable and specific latent message, too. Unlike many images of political marriage in which the man lays claim to his wife through a symbolically possessive gesture — touching her shoulder, raising her hand up or kissing — the embrace between these two people seems mutual. The first lady is, among many other things, a big woman, famed for her well-toned arms, and in this image of hugging, she’s giving as good as she gets.

The president, if anything, seems to need this hug and appears almost dependent and vulnerable. The obligatory masculine markers of leadership — resolve, self-sufficiency and emotional equanimity — dissolve into the obliterating communion of two people lost in their own love world. ...

The photograph strongly suggests an ideal of mutuality in marriage, unencumbered by older ideas of possession and obedience that still hold sway in some deeply traditionalist religions.

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