The Wall Street Journal gives Mary Anne Goley a platform to discuss the artistic tastes of Fed Chairmen. She was the director of the Federal Reserve’s fine art program for 31 years:
[T]he collection numbers 450-plus works. Most are American from the 19th and 20th centuries, but there are also some outstanding foreign examples, such as the 1937 Cubist-derived “Abstraction-Verte” (1937) by the Frenchman Jean Helion, a 1975 Aboriginal bark painting by Walter Djambidjimba and a 2004 photograph of multiple foreign currencies by the contemporary Chinese photographer Hong Hao. There are no budgeted acquisition funds; all art in the permanent collection comes to us through donations. It was my responsibility to vet not only the works before they entered the collection, but the donors to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. […]
If I could have borrowed a work by the British artist Bridget Riley, I am certain Mr. Volcker would have allowed me to hang it in his office. I had come to learn that he liked Op Art.
In 1987 Alan Greenspan began his long tenure as Fed chairman. If I’d thought his background as a jazz musician would translate into bold office décor, I was mistaken. Mr. Greenspan picked two landscapes we owned, Alexander Lawrie’s crisply executed “Pleasant Valley, Essex County, N.Y.” (1867), in the style of the Hudson River School, and Friedrich Konig’s winter “Snowscape” (c. 1900) in the Viennese Secessionist style. Not much irrational exuberance there.
Still, Mr. Greenspan was not without his bolder side. He admired the work of two Dutch masters, Franz Hals, a 17th-century painter known for his bravura brushwork, and Piet Mondrian, a 20th-century pioneer of abstraction. No works by either artist were within our reach, so we decided that a work by Ellsworth Kelly would be a good alternative to Mondrian. […]
At first, Mr. Bernanke’s choices were what you would expect from a central banker. In 2002, at the beginning of his tenure as a Fed governor, he picked two traditional landscapes: “Harvest Scene, New York State” (c. 1859), a rare American subject by the expatriate artist Thomas Hotchkiss, and an untitled romantic view of a verdurous valley by Arthur F. Bellows. […]
About 1½ years later, I received an email from Mr. Bernanke asking for a change. This time he picked “Samarkand Stitches #IV,” an assemblage by the American pop artist Robert Rauschenberg. […] He was absolutely ebullient about the Rauschenberg.
What Fed Chiefs Like (Wall Street Journal)