Art as witness: celebrating the best post-Trump political cartoons

Group exhibition in New York features over 200 artworks that cover both the president and the various issues that have arisen during his time in office

Art Spiegelman

From a burning White House to running refugees, there has been so much political art since Donald Trump came into power, satire is no longer at the sidelines. It is center stage.

Some of the most politically charged illustrations and cartoons of the past two years will be on view as part of Art as Witness: Political Graphics 2016-18, a group exhibition featuring more than 200 political artworks from 53 artists on view at the SVA Chelsea Gallery at the School of Visual Arts in New York opening 6 October.

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With fake news and all else, it seemed like a really good time to speak up about this signal moment in American history where the whole Trump phenomenon took over, said Francis Di Tommaso, the galleries director at SVA.

From illustrations to cartoons, well-known artists like Art Spiegelman and Milton Glaser will show artworks that range from caricatures of the orange-faced president to gun control, the #MeToo movement and #BlackLivesMatter.

The thrust of the show is the finest work by people who are moving and shaking in political illustration, said co-curator Steve Brodner. Graphic design and illustration has not weakened at all despite great changes in media, the art is going through a golden age.

Among the artworks, there are New Yorker covers by illustrator Barry Blitt, whose June cover shows refugee children hiding behind the legs of Lady Liberty, a comment on the Trump administrations family separation policy. There are also portraits of Trump in a swamp by John Cuneo, another New Yorker cover, and a drawing by Spiegelman showing a scared-looking man holding up a sign that reads Resist.

This is a constitutional crisis were in the middle of, and ultimately there are severe violations that have taken place in law, constitutional democracy, said Brodner. Were going to have to suss this all out, and this show is one way we start to do that.

Rob
Rob Rogers, Immigrant Children, 2018. Photograph: Rob Rogers/Courtesy of the artist

There are also works by Rob Rogers, the artist fired from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for criticizing Trump. Several pieces in this exhibit are those which were never published. These artworks were censored, said Di Tommaso. His life story has become emblematic of what has happened to political art in the US.

There is also a parody of Washington Crossing the Delaware, an 1851 painting by Emanuel Leutze which has been recreated by Rolling Stonecartoonist Victor Juhasz. It shows a caricature of Trump wearing a MAGA hat while seated before a burning White House. Here, Trump is twice the size of anyone in the boat and he is patriotically tweeting, as [the] boat rides through wreckage of all kinds, said Di Tommaso.

There is a selection of scathing New Yorker covers by illustrators Christoph Niemann and Anita Kunz, as well as viral Trump covers by Cuban American Edel Rodriguez, showing Trump holding a beheaded head of the Statue of Liberty on the cover of Der Spiegel.

There are also illustrations by Tim OBrien, who has painted a combined portrait of Trump and Putin, as well as a comical portrait of Trump by Stephen Kroninger showing the president rewriting the constitution from We the People to read Me the People.

All of this surely fits into Michael Moores call for an army of satire to take down Trump, but with the presidents face all over the exhibit many of which are magazine covers does all this publicity have a reverse effect?

Perversely, it has given him more attention, which is what he most craves, said Di Tommaso. As long as you talk about him, he wins. I guess there is no way around it. That is why we also use imagery that does not use Trump in it.

Anita
Anita Kunz, No Guns, 2012. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist

The exhibit is broken down into themes beyond the president, from womens rights to gun control, racism, Russia and immigration. We tried to bring in these other issues to give a fuller moment of this time, said Di Tommaso.

Brodner, a SVA faculty member, has been a political cartoonist working for the press for 40 years. Satire is a powerful tool and its the job of the artist to be responsible for their own reactions of what art is, but satire is not going to bring Trump down, said Brodner. We are not expecting to change the world with satire, our choice is either to make art or not make art. Its everybodys choice to react or remain silent. When fascism raises its head, do we meet it with silence or we say Hell no?

You just show up, look em in the eye and tell the truth, he adds. If we all did that as citizens, we wouldnt have Donald Trump in the first place.

There is backlash for political satire, but Brodner is immune to hate mail. This isnt for the faint of heart, he says. You dont do this if youre horrified of someone not liking you. Its nothing to be afraid of.

Though political satire is seeing a renaissance, the market is still changing. Its tough, some fear they are using too much Trump, some say: Were Trumped out, said Brodner. There is always a feeling of fear on mainstream media to say anything too strong with artwork.

Time will tell. In the meantime, the exhibit ends on a symbolic date. We timed this show to end right before the midterm elections, said Di Tommaso. The goal of the show is to wake people up with pictures the one thing people can do to have any affect is to vote.

  • Art as Witness: Political Graphics 2016-18 is showing at the SVA Chelsea Gallery at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 6 October to 3 November

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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