Category Archives: commentary

Richard Prince takes artists’ protest to the next level

While some artists have mobilized to raise their concerns with Ivanka, New York artist Richard Prince has taken this strategy a step further. Prince hasn’t just objected to Ivanka collecting his work, but has gone so far as to call a work of his a fake and return the money he received for making it. The New York Times considers whether this actually affects the value of the piece. Regardless of its impact on the work it is an important statement. Hopefully he will also create new art specifically decrying Trump.

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Don’t boycott, make protest art!

Dozens of artists and curators have announced that they will not work on January 20th in protest of Trump’s inauguration (This post has the most detailed roundup of which artists and institutions are participating). While organizing behind a cause and a unified message are important developments, it’s disappointing that this group hasn’t chosen a more effective tactic than a boycott. Rather than staging a do-nothing boycott these artists could make art.

Admittedly, it’s difficult to imagine some of the artists using their usual medium to make a convincing protest. Could Richard Serra make protest art that is specifically targeting Trump and his policies? Many of his works are disorienting in the way that a Trump presidency will be, but his art seems too abstract and non-figurative to clearly communicate an anti-Trump message (although I’d love to see him try).

Many contemporary artists, however, seem well-suited to design some great Trump protest art. This is especially the case with Barbara Kruger, who has previously made compelling anti-Trump art, but has signed up with the boycott and will not do anything on inauguration day. Her art is overt, typically with clearly worded messaging, and nearly always political. Why wouldn’t Kruger use the inauguration as an opportunity to make more anti-Trump art?

I don’t know if she’s offered an explanation, but I’m going to suggest one that might apply to Kruger and others who have made protest art in the past. Right now Kruger has large scale exhibitions in the Hirshhorn and National Gallery – possibly more art per square foot on the mall than any other artist in DC. These installations earned her and her gallery representation hundreds of thousands. Protest art, on the other hand, is not affiliated with any institution and would not pay much, if anything.

There’s also a risk in staging more protest art. Given how many museums rely on government funding, protest art that challenges the administration could be a liability for Kruger and other artists, as institutions would be less likely to work with her. Kruger has established herself as a blue chip artist so it may be easier to play it safe than risk her reputation and future shows by being prominently anti-Trump.

Maybe its just an issue of following the herd and Kruger has added her name as a sign of solidarity. Hopefully she will create more protest art, even if she does nothing on inauguration day.

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Nadav Kander’s portrait of Trump

The Time magazine cover has been widely interpreted as portraying Trump as a devil because of the placement of the “M” above his head. Yet this isn’t the first time a Time Person of the Year image could be construed this way. More interesting are the many other subversive elements in the work by the London-based photographer Nadav Kander. Journalist and critic Jake Romm identifies other features as subversive, including the chair, the pose, and the color.

#critiques There has been quite a bit of writing reviewing and critiquing my portrait of Donald Trump seen on the cover of Time Magazine’s Person Of The Year issue. “Perfect” I say because any writing that demonstrates enquiry sheds light onto the many layers a good piece of work should have. It at once promotes others to think more about what they see around them (hard with the amount of popular imagery coming at us from every direction) and it shows the possibility that we can deepen into work we look at and let our own personal story give up its secrets and feel emotion triggered by what it sees (if of course this interests you). Some excellent writing can beautifully suggest and unlock a thought trail you’d never imagined before. The more of this the better, because your interest and knowledge becomes more acute. So bring it on! What I miss from a lot of this writing is a simple “in my view” put at the beginning or the end of a sentence occasionally. I mind this because it’s you and only you that hold the narrative to the picture and therefore another’s truth may not be yours. There is no dictionary that defines the meaning of a photograph, just a viewers view. I try with all my image making to leave the ‘door open’ so a viewer can come in and feel around for themselves. A glance back by a sitter might mean one thing to one person and something so different to another, just because, as said above, our life stories are so different from one to another. I looked to make a portrait that respects this crossroad in history with no political view of my own. Thank you for so much positive feedback. #trump #timemagazine #portrait @time

A photo posted by Nadav Kander Studio (@nadavkander) on

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Artists give Ivanka the hand

👏🏻 👏🏻👏🏻 @loicgouzer @brettgorvy 📷 @joshuakushner

A photo posted by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on

While it doesn’t mean new protest art, a movement by contemporary artists and their friends to send message Ivanka is a promising. Calling themselves the Halt Action Group, they have sought to use Ivanka interest in their work as a way to change her father’s policies.

Ivanka is an avid collector of contemporary art. From a photoshoot in Elle Decor, Ivanka has photographs by Mariah Robertson, prints by John Baldesaari, and a drawing by the late Jan Voors. According to Bloomberg , she also has art by Christopher Wool, Alex IsraelNate Lowman, Dan Colen, and  Will Boone.

The efforts targeting Ivanka have been lead  by curator Alison Gingeras, artist Jonathan Horowitz, and dealer Bill Powers, who has previously sold work to Trump. Some in the group have said they do not want to be associated with Trump and object to Ivanka having their work on her walls. Others who have voiced concerns, ranging from the Muslim registry to Trump’s treatment of women, using the “dear_ivanka” tag on posters.

Hopefully this initiative will only expand and gain more attention. If all of the artists Ivanka collects and their galleries joined the protest, it would be tough for Ivanka to enter a gallery without hearing objections about her father.
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