George Zimmerman’s Paintings: A Critical Appraisal

Art critics call the paintings of the man who fatally shot Trayvon Martin “primitive” and “appalling”

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AP / Courtesy Robert Zimmerman Jr.

Watch out, George W. Bush. Another man has joined the former president atop the list of America’s most beguiling painters: George Zimmerman. Art world watchers are not amused.

On Wednesday, the Florida man who was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the Trayvon Martin case, shared his newest work of art with the world when his brother Robert Zimmerman, Jr., tweeted a photo of “Angie,” a red and orange illustration of the special prosecutor involved in his case, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey.

“Angie” is not the first time Zimmerman has picked up a brush. In December, the former neighborhood watchman sold a blue, latex paint illustration of the American flag with the text “God One Nation with Liberty and Justice For All” for $100,099.99 on the auction site eBay.

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“It’s very primitive,” said Jason Edward Kaufman, a contributing editor at Art+Auction, about Zimmerman’s work, “the sort of thing an art critic wouldn’t look at twice.”

While the American flag painting may look like a military ad or a patriotic poster, “Angie” looks like a “bloodbath,” Kaufman said.

“They’re just kind of so appalling that you hate to make comparisons,” said Andrew Russeth, art critic for the New York Observer, when asked to place Zimmerman’s painting in the context of a particular artistic movement. “It looks like someone is doing paint by number.”

Russeth panned the paintings as “a desperate cry for attention.”

“People like George Zimmerman and George W. Bush who don’t seem to be able to make their cases in other ways kind of see art as a field in which they can redeem themselves,” he added.

Christian Viveros-Faune, art critic for the Village Voice, said Zimmerman’s work fits alongside other “murderabilia,” comparing his work to paintings by serial killer John Wayne Gacy and cult leader Charles Manson.

“Just because you get pigment and a canvas or a piece of cloth and you dirty it up doesn’t make it a work of art,” said Viveros-Faune.

Not everyone agrees with the critics. Comments on the eBay listing for Zimmerman’s American flag painting laud the former watchdog as a “hero” whose “resilience is astonishing and inspirational!”

On eBay, Zimmerman offered a defense of his work.

“I found a creative, way to express myself, my emotions and the symbols that represent my experiences,” a post attributed to Zimmerman reads.  “My art work allows me to reflect, providing a therapeutic outlet and allows me to remain indoors :-)”