Since 1962, the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in Washington, DC, has received official commissioned portraits of the nation’s presidents. The museum works directly with White House staff to put together a list of potential artists, and the painting is ultimately installed in the NPG’s ongoing America’s Presidents exhibition. The longstanding tradition is honored for every presidency, regardless of its legacy, which means the horrors of Donald Trump’s leadership, and his bad fake tan, will soon be memorialized in the Portrait Gallery’s hallowed halls.
This morning, DC arts and culture reporter Mikaela Lefrak confirmed the NPG will be moving forward with a portrait commission for the 45th president, per her conversation with the museum’s director. As a courtesy to Trump’s aesthetically-challenged allies, Hyperallergic has put together a list of possible artists who could take on the dishonorable task, rated out of 5 s below.
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The clear forerunner in this terrible contest is Jon McNaughton. The mediocre painter of far-right talking points is what would happen if Thomas Kinkade and Ayn Rand had a love child. His one-line images are well suited to the attention span of the internet, even though they don’t have the artistry to hold up much longer than that. Honestly McNaughton should’ve become a political cartoonist for Breitbart, but he ended up wanting to be an “artist.” I’m dying to know who the historical artists he is influenced by, but I can probably guess that.
The Cleveland-based artist famously used 2,020 vintage metal dildos purchased from a scrap dealer to create a large-scale portrait of Donald Trump that captures the former president’s true character more faithfully than any oil on canvas ever could. “What is a proper monument to mark the hopeful end of divisive Trumpism? None at all. Or Dongs,” he told Hyperallergic at the time. Still, the artist’s resourcefulness could come in handy.
Gore — no relation at Al — already has the right portrait for Trump. Her micro-penis rendering of the former President caused an uproar back in 2016, leading to a confrontation with a male Trump supporter who punched her in the eye. (Toxic masculinity, anyone?) Perhaps she should be given the honor because the violence that Trump enables is as much as part of his legacy as anything else. Gore would be the perfect artist to make this work.
There are stupid stories, and then there are really stupid stories — this one falls into the latter. Like Trump, the monolith’s “I don’t give a shit who’s land this is” attitude had blue-chip art dealers like David Zwirner cooing at its edginess, which tells you it has none. Like Trump, this juvenile idea that damaged the national landscape and fed into the “manifest destiny” mindset spread around the world like a cancer. Can’t think of a better fit to mark the Trump legacy. The only difference is that the monoliths have since disappeared, unlike the Tangerine Mussolini.
This artist, who has since fallen from grace because of #MeToo allegations of his sexual abuse, has already painted one Presidential predator: Bill Clinton. His past painting of the once-impeached president is in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, so why not add one of a twice-impeached “leader” to his oeuvre. Trump up-Close could be a good fit.
George W. Bush
There’s something strangely satisfying about one bad former president painting another, wouldn’t you say? Not only did George W. Bush declare and then proceed to catastrophically mismanage a bloody and entirely unjustifiable war in Iraq, but he also failed at pretty much everything else. Much like Trump, the 43rd president fueled economic inequity by passing tax cuts that benefited the wealthy and actively cultivated bigotry, racism, and homophobia. Despite these horrifying parallels, some “Never Trump” Republicans looked to the Bush-era with a creepy nostalgia. George W. Bush is also a terrible painter — exactly the man we need for the job.
Sofia the Robot
Unburdened by a moral compass, the AI robot is a perfect fit for the job. If you don’t believe she can do it, watch her draw portraits masterfully in this video.
“Jewish space lasers”
According to new GOP Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and anti-Semitic conspiracists of her kind, the 2018 California wildfires were kindled by space lasers from a satellite controlled by a corporate cabal led by the Rothschilds. But instead of setting California’s forests on fire, we would suggest that the cabal’s space lasers etch a colossal portrait of the former president onto the slopes of “Yo-Semite.” Trump, whose dream was to be carved into Mount Rushmore, would surely appreciate the gesture.
Brian Andrew Whiteley
His temporary Trump headstone in Central Park caused an uproar when it happened, but in some ways, it might be fitting for a president who spent more time on his golf course than working on real business. Perhaps this “portrait” could be placed in a nearby dog park so that local animals could find a sense of relief around it. Either way, we think it’s funny and a good way to mark the graveness of what happened during the last four years.
Art Restorers in Spain
If all goes as planned, Trump’s official portrait will never see the light of day, left to gather dust in a damp storage room where it will rapidly deteriorate, grow a generous layer of mold, and accrue a host of condition issues. When that time comes, we know just who we’d like to entrust with the work’s “repair”: painting conservators in Spain, infamous for botched restorations that have rendered even the likeness of Jesus Christ entirely unrecognizable. Spain’s Professional Association of Restorers has described the oeuvres as “disastrous,” which is coincidentally how we refer to Trump’s presidency.