Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s official gubernatorial portrait was unveiled Monday in a State Capitol ceremony featuring the ex-governator and current Gov. Jerry Brown.
Rather staid, considering he was perhaps the Golden State’s most larger-than-life governor in recent memory.
In a news release, Schwarzenegger said his seven years at California’s helm “were some of the most fulfilling of my life, and I am proud of all that we accomplished during that time – including passing groundbreaking environmental legislation, investing in California infrastructure and making landmark political reforms. It’s truly a privilege to have my portrait hang on the walls alongside California’s great leaders.”
He said Monday’s celebration “is also for all the people who served California with me during my time in office without whom none of these accomplishments would have been possible.”
Schwarzenegger paid the bill for this portrait, commissioning it from Austrian-Irish artist Gottfried Helnwein, whose past subjects include Andy Warhol, John F. Kennedy and Muhammad Ali. Helnwein’s art has been featured in prominent museums and galleries including the Legion of Honor, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Legion of Honor San Francisco, the L.A. County Museum, the State Russian Museum St. Petersburg, the Albertina Museum Vienna, the Galerie Rudolfinum in Prague and the Crocker Art Museum.
One piece of his work – a large painting of Death Valley – hung in the governor’s council room during Schwarzenegger’s administration.
Helnwein, 65, called Schwarzenegger, 67, “one of the most remarkable men of our times. He is larger than life, he is a myth, and he has already lived several lives that became legends.” But the former governor also is “a great lover and patron of the arts” who often visited Helnwein’s Los Angeles studio for long discussions on art, the artist said.
Portraits of former California governors have been on display in the State Capitol since 1879. Schwarzenegger’s will be hung on the State Capitol’s third floor, next to that of former Gov. Gray Davis.