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A painting of Merkel at the London Art Fair
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/W. Oliver

How Angela Merkel is depicted in art

March 13, 2018

Angela Merkel has been sworn in as Germany's chancellor for the fourth time. Before she appears in the chancellors' gallery of portraits, here's how other iconic works of art have already represented her.


Images of Angela Merkel

Some artistic representations of heads of government, like the recently unveiled portrait of former US President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, become modern icons of art.

The paintings were not just strikingly colorful but also served as political statements, with the choice of artist Kehinde Wiley as the first African-American artist to paint a presidential portrait.

USA National Portrait Galleryreveals Obama portrait
Obama's portrait by Kehinde WileyImage: picture-alliance/ABACA/D. Olivier

Read more: Barack and Michelle Obama portraits unveiled in Washington

Helmut Kohl also made a political choice when selecting East German painter Bernhard Heisig, one of the most important GDR state artists, as his portrait painter. It will be interesting to see which artist Angela Merkel will choose when the time comes.

Angela Merkel as Time's 'Person of the Year'

There are already a few high-profile paintings of the German chancellor, such as those done by artists Colin Davidson and Elizabeth Peyton. The former was commissioned by Time magazine when Merkel was voted "Person of the Year" in 2015; the second was commissioned by the fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue

Read more:What two iconic paintings reveal about Angela Merkel

When it comes to photographs of the chancellor, Herlinde Koelb and Andreas Mühe have made artistically convincing contributions. In sculpture, too, there have been already interesting approaches inspired by Merkel.

Perhaps the most profitable, however, is the use of the chancellor as a subject of satire and comedy. In the UK, Tracey Ullman is laughed with for her portrayal of a sexy singing Angela Merkel. At home in Germany, Katharina Thalbach has already Merkel-ed her way through.

Read more: The 'Cover Girl' chancellor

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