19 January 2021: Having sparked protest throughout his four-year tenure, Donald Trump’s final day in office will leave behind (among other things) a lasting legacy of anti-Trump artworks – including a poster campaign by Shepard Fairey and an exhibition marking the first anniversary of his inauguration.
On Trump’s last day as president, here are five art pieces whose memory will outlast his policies.
Baby Trump blimp
This giant helium balloon was designed by Matt Bonner in 2018 when crowdfunding helped launch it into the sky for Trump’s first presidential visit to the UK. Since then it’s popped up in several locations around the world, with the inflatable making its last port of call in 2021 at the Museum of London – where it’s now part of the permanent protest collection. The museum describes the caricature as ‘a reminder of when London stood against Mr Trump’.
These bright pink seesaws only remained in place on the US-Mexico border for 20 minutes but were recently named winner of London’s Design Museum’s Beazley Designs of the Year. Intended as a commentary on the borders that divide nations – something Trump took aim at with his ‘big, beautiful wall’ between the two countries – the project quickly went viral in 2019. Design Museum director Tim Marlow described the piece, by architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, and art collective Colectivo Chopeke, as ‘an inventive and poignant reminder of how human beings can transcend the forces that seek to divide us.’
Remains Board clock
Matthew Barney installed this giant LED clock on the side of his Long Island City studio in 2017, and mysteriously left it to tick away, quietly counting down the hours, minutes and seconds left of Trump’s presidency. ‘We see it as a civic project, like the national debt clock, and we don’t want it to become about who made it,’ said curator Brandon Stosuy, who worked on the project together with architect Jane Lea, fabricator Jade Archuleta-Gans and light designer Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn. ‘We figure what it does is clear enough without us elaborating on it. I think our stance on Trump is clear, too.’
The Trump Statue Initiative
Statues were a hot topic in 2020, as representations of deeply problematic individuals including slave traders and racists were pulled down by the public in countries around the world.
In the States, artist Bryan Buckley instead decided to put up a few of his own – golden ones, no less. He daubed street performers top to toe in metallic paint and left them to enact scenes that criticised some of Trump’s more problematic policies and actions – including his emphasis on in-person education during a pandemic. ‘I noticed that Trump was obsessed with statues,’ Buckley said in an interview with AdAge. ‘I felt like the best thing we could do was to create these very honest statues of the legacy he’s living right now, that let the world see exactly who he is.’
Giant Black Lives Matter mural in DC
2020 saw Black Lives Matter murals appear across the US, in protest of the country’s systemic racism – the flames of which were fanned by Trump’s defence of far-right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys. Eight artists and a team of volunteers got together to create the largest one so far, painted in towering yellow letters in Washington DC and located, appropriately, across two blocks leading up to the White House.
Mural artist BAMR, who worked on the Sacramento piece, told the New Yorker: ‘So, for us, this was empowerment, to put this message on the front lawn of our capitol. This is a shift of energy on our planet.’