The Secretary of State

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Today is as good a day as any to look at Luc Tuymans' much-debated 2005 oil-on-canvas portrait The Secretary of State.

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In a 2005 top ten for Artforum, Studio Museum curator Thelma Golden noted that Condoleeza Rice's mouth is "resolutely shut" in this portrait. This image has also been interpreted as a political critique (in which case, Tuymans' viewpoint is usually the writer's), as proof that the painter is turned on by his subject, or simply as one of the latest in a long line of portraits of people who have had Rice's job. But what would Dave Chappelle's blind white supremacist character say?

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