Trump Art

Allison Wu, Staff Writer

In the midst of the 2020 election, it’s important to evaluate the attitudes of artists under Donald Trump’s presidency. While the majority of artists find helplessness under his administration, a surprising minority find odd inspiration as well.

Diana Spechler, an author and journalist, wrote a personal narrative of her experiences in the Esquire living in a village in central Mexico. There, she noticed a spike in artistic inspiration related to Donald Trump. One of the Mexican painters, Jorge Beltran, created The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, picturing a caricature of Donald Trump, Pope Francis, and El Chapo sitting in a prison cell with Trump gagged, and the others playing cards. Items such as alcohol, crosses, and inappropriate posters surround the prison cell, and a dystopian world exists beyond the cell window. The viewer can interpret the painting from any perspective. 

Jorge Beltran’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is just one example of protest art, an artistic tool to convey a political theme or message. Famous traditional protest art and literature include Jill Greenberg’s Portraits of John McCain, Betye Saar’s The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. Art has always been a social response, creating its own significance in the political space. Relating to Donald Trump’s administration, one negative protest art is a sculpture called The Emperor Has No Balls by an anonymous art collective that goes by the name “Indecline,” displayed at Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco in 2016. The collective’s objective was to humiliate Donald Trump with this piece, making him embarrassingly nude and ugly. The installation is a clear protest against his character and is meant to influence the viewers of his naiveness and childlike behavior. In Trump Tower of Evil, with the swastika symbols and sharp font, Scharf expresses complete disdain for the president’s clear appeals to fascism. Judith Bernstein, another protest artist, created glow-in-the-dark paintings that question capitalism, fascism, and corruption in Donald Trump’s administration and campaigns. With Scharf, Bernstein, and many others, Donald Trump’s presidency has spurred its own negative art movement, combining installations, performance art, conceptualism, and photorealism.

Although art can incorporate retaliation against Donald Trump, his administration can spark a positive response as well. Jon McNaughton, known as the most supportive pro-Trump artist, paints the president in viral paintings playing football, holding the American flag, or painting a masterpiece. His work is controversial as Democrats see his art as comedic while critics call him a propagandist. McNaughton publicly declared that his work was serious and he was determined to show “what it was like to be alive at this time in our country’s history.” The Masterpiece depicts Donald Trump glamorously and gallantly painting and revealing a bright, heavenly artwork. Other pieces such as The Impeachment Mob and Respect the Flag either demean Trump’s opposition or highlight his patriotism. Protest art will always create, influence, and impact. During the upcoming election, keep a good eye on new Trump art—the movement will continue to grow and inspire.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by Jorge Beltran

Trump Tower of Evil by Kenny Scharf

Money Shot by Judith Bernstein


The Emperor Has No Balls by Anonymous Art Collective (Not published here due to graphic content)


The Masterpiece by Jon McNaughton

The Impeachment Mob by Jon McNaughton

Respect the Flag by Jon McNaughton