Ivanka Trump is incredibly proud of the art collection she has amassed and prominently features works by contemporary artists in her Instagram and other social media feeds.
According to Bloomberg News, however, some of the artists she has featured are less than proud to know that their work has been purchased by the daughter of the president-elect.
These artists not only don’t want to be associated with the divisive, historically unpopular incoming president, they feel that their work is being co-opted as aesthetic window dressing for the 35-year-old heiress’ personal brand.
“I think there are a lot of artists that are uncomfortable now being incorporated, or leveraged, as part of the Ivanka Trump brand,” said art dealer Bill Powers.
“In one post, Trump shimmies in front of a Dan Colen ‘chewing gum’ painting; a comparable work sold for $578,500 at Phillips New York in 2012,” wrote Bloomberg’s James Tarmy. “In another post, Trump’s child plays the piano in front of a ‘bullet hole’ silkscreen by Nate Lowman; a bullet-hole painting in the same palette sold for $665,000 in 2013 at Sotheby’s in New York. In yet another post, taken from a Harper’s Bazaar shoot, Trump poses at her dining table in front of a work by Alex Israel. A similar painting by Israel sold for $581,000 in 2014 at Phillips New York.”
Like many moneyed collectors trying to establish themselves in the art scene, Trump employs the services of an art adviser. Alex Marshall, Trump’s adviser, is the daughter of Patricia Marshall, known as one of the most powerful and savvy art advisers in the world.
One group of artists, curators and activists — theHalt Action Group (HAG) — has started an Instagram feed called “Dear Ivanka” in which they “repost glossy stock images of Trump along with earnest appeals about what they foresee as the dire consequences of her father’s politics,” said Tarmy.
“Dear @Ivankatrump please get my work off of your walls. I am embarrassed to be seen with you,” wrote artist Alex Da Corte.
HAG organized a protest march outside a building owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband and owner of the New York Observer newspaper.
Tarmy said that some of the artists’ aggressive response comes from the fact that they would never have thought Trump and her husband would fall in line with the kind of regressive, reactionary politics that fueled the Trump 2016 campaign.
“No one could have anticipated [Donald] Trump’s policies and how horrible he’s turned out to be, and no one could have anticipated that his daughter and son-in-law would agree with him,” said Brendan Dugan, the founder of bookstore/gallery Karma to Bloomberg. “The real argument is that the art world is primarily a marketplace, and if you have money, people will sell you things. I think maybe this is a wake-up call.”
When Ivanka Trump was a socialite and heiress, artists were perfectly happy to do business with her. Now, however, having seen the role she played in her father’s rise to power and anticipating how she will function in his government, they are finding themselves faced with a moral conundrum.
“It’s a moment of reckoning,” said curator Alison Gingeras of HAG. “Going forward, we need to think more carefully about how our work gets brought to the world, and who it’s sold to.”