Mayor Bloomberg’s official portrait revealed, mocked

Mayor Bloomberg’s Official Portrait Revealed, Mocked

Mayor Bloomberg’s Official Portrait Revealed, Mocked

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Dec. 31 2013 1:42 PM

Mayor Bloomberg’s Official Portrait Revealed, Mocked

On Monday, Mayor Bloomberg's office treated the world to an early New Year's surprise, revealing the outgoing mayor's official portrait:

Painted by Jon R. Friedman—who has also done portraits for Ted Turner, Barney Frank, and Bill Gates—the work shows Bloomberg in his "bullpen" and it received a rather mixed reaction on the internet. New York magazine questioned his "barely concealed frown," while the Daily Mail went with "half-smirk/half-frown." And the Village Voice was slightly puzzled, noting the uncomfortable juxtoposition of "magical warmth" and "some kind of rash, maybe." It then elaborated:

In case your browser is blocking the image—out of good taste, perhaps—it depicts Bloomberg, arms crossed and some sort of flat-screen TV tumor growing from one shoulder, as the busy City Hall bullpen bustles behind him. His face is flushed with goodwill, or possibly rosacea. His nose appears to be in bloom.
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Many commentators took to Twitter to express their displeasure:

It's easy to see what Bloomberg and Friedman were going for, but it's also easy to see where they erred. Bloomberg is clearly meant to be striking a businesslike, above-the-fray pose—his purple tie is symbolic of bipartisanship!—but instead he comes across as the kind of smug, unsympathetic billionaire his opponents make him out to be. It's a strange decision on Bloomberg's part, but it's also mostly immaterial. Whatever Bloomberg's legacy will be, this painting certainly won't change it. Still, it's impossible not to wonder whether Bloomberg just picked the wrong portrait.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.