WASHINGTON – Bill Clinton has never looked so "hip."
This jacket-pulled-back, extended-hip pose of the former president was unveiled last night during a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution.
In the unconventional creation by artist Nelson Shanks, Clinton bears a passing resemblance to former "Nightline" host Ted Koppel and has a hint of a scowl on his face.
But it was the former president's somewhat unpresidential, somewhat louche stance in the Oval Office that had people talking from Washington to New York.
A former Clinton aide, who saw the painting last night but did not want to be identified, said, "I don't get the whole hands-on-the-hip thing. I don't know what it's supposed to convey."
The painting will hang as part of the newly expanded exhibition "America's Presidents" when the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery opens on July 1 in Washington.
"I have reservations about having a large portrait of me," Clinton said at the unveiling ceremony, where he was joined by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea. "If you grew up when I did, portraits were for dead people."
Carolyn Kinder Carr, chief curator at the Smithsonian, describes the portrait in programs handed out before the ceremony. She said Clinton appears "intense" and sports a "warm gaze" as if to "greet an unseen visitor."
The other portrait commissioned at the same time features a more-traditional profile of Sen. Clinton striking her best Susan B. Anthony dollar pose.
Sen. Clinton chose Ginny Stanford to paint her portrait - the first time the Portrait Gallery has commissioned that one be painted of the first lady at the same time as the president's.
While many liked Hillary's pose, some of the same people said Bill's "Inside the Beltway" portrait looked very unpresidential.
Carol Baker, 65, a tourist from London, said Clinton's pose looks feminine.
"He looks very effeminate for some reason," she said. "He ought to be wearing a white shirt."
Both paintings were paid for by Clinton's friends.
The National Portrait Gallery has one of two complete collections of presidential portraits. The other is at the White House.