C U Next Tuesday: A Recap of Trump Art

By Helen Cameron

  Image courtesy of James Bareham of The Verge  

Image courtesy of James Bareham of The Verge 

With now less than a week to go before the leader of the free world is decided upon, I thought it would be apt to reflect on the way in which the controversial character of Donald Trump has been depicted in art during this long, long election process.

Trump has stated several times his admiration for Vladimir Putin, king of cultural policing and artistic censorship, and has expressed little interest in the cultivation or supporting of the arts in America since announcing his presidential campaign.  Needless to say, artist’s responses to his relentless media presence have been less than complimentary.

In August of this year, five identical statues of a nude Trump appeared overnight on street corners in San Franscisco, LA, Cleveland, Seattle and NYC. The anarchist collective INDECLINE was responsible for the statues and called their project The emperor has no balls, referencing the fairytale with a message about narcissism. A spokesperson for INDECLINE stated that as ‘a larger than life figure in world culture’ the aim was to memorialize Trump with a statue as such figures were in ancient times.The statues, created by LA based artist Ginger, are grotesque and blatant. Blue veins run across the spotted pink flesh of the figure and the signature hair of Trump is a bright yellow in a cartoonish exaggeration. The most difficult part to look at is a close tie between the dimpled, saggy buttocks and the almost non-existent private parts. It really is no surprise to learn that Ginger comes from a background in haunted house and horror movie design. INDECLINE’s goal of a viral political artistic message was achieved: although none of the statues lasted more than an hour before being removed by the authorities, thousands of naked trump selfies stormed people’s newsfeeds, leaving a very NSFW stamp on the internet. Some have criticized the work for its body shaming and ageist approach to political expression, with The Guardian’s Murray Whyte viewing its focus on exaggerating aspects of Trump’s anatomy as pushing caricaturization into the realms of purposeless contempt, detracting from their intended message.

Portland Artist Sarah Levy Approached Trump art in another way. Using period blood to paint Whatever, Levy created a piece showing Trump’s face in contortion, presumably about to say something offensive. Levy created this in response to the comments Trump made regarding Megyn Kelly following the republican presidential debate on Fox News; ‘You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.’[1] The work can take on a whole new level when we think of the comments made by Trump that have surfaced recently regarding women and where you should grab ‘em. Levy ingeniously uses a human material Trump finds offensive and disgusting to portray something that a great deal of the world finds offensive and disgusting; himself. Meta.   

  Image Courtesy of Sarah Levy

Image Courtesy of Sarah Levy

 For interactive art, we can turn to the Trump colouring book by Chris Piascik and Shayna Cochefski. The ‘colouring book for big hands’ uses Trump’s reputation for ridiculousness and bigotry to take advantage of the current trend of adult colouring books. Featuring some of Trump’s finest moments in the public eye; from laughing at rallies to comments on prominent women, Trumptivity is for everyone. Use the book as a stress relief from deadlines and assignments, or as a time to reflect on the state of politics in 2016. You can get your own copy here.

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