Trump-Inspired Artwork Dominated This Year’s Art Basel

Trump-Inspired Artwork Dominated This Year’s Art Basel

Anxieties over looming misogyny and racism were on display last weekend.

Anxieties over looming misogyny and racism were on display last weekend.

Text: Thomas Freeman

The reason for the prominence of politically-charged artwork at this year’s Art Basel should be obvious—a demagogue with a laundry list of sexual assault allegations and penchant for stoking white nationalism awaits the White House. The ways in which artists have expressed their outrage over the current political climate, however, were entirely imaginative and surprising.

At a Blum & Poe gallery outpost, Rirkrit Tiravanija presented three particularly incendiary pieces. Pages from the November 9 edition of The New York Times were torn out, assembled into collages and then stamped with the same foreboding message—“The Tyranny of Common Sense Has Reached Its Final Stage.”

Another of Tiravanija’s works shown by London’s Pilar Corrias gallery, gave Brexit a similar treatment. A more somber message, “Do We Dream Under The Same Sky,” was imprinted onto pages of British newspapers and tabloids from the day following the the UK referendum to disband from the European Union.

Also at Blum & Poe, a piece by artist Sam Durant—a red sign with “End White Supremacy” scribbled on its surface—disquieted gallery-goers.

#artbasel #miami Booth K21 until 12/4 ????: Silvia Ros

A photo posted by Blum & Poe (@blumandpoe) on

An extraordinarily lifelike pencil drawing of a scowling Hillary Clinton by Karl Haendel was shown by LA-based dealer Susanne Vielmetter.

We're with her! Detail of Karl Haendel, "Hillary Clinton," 2016 #wevoted #werewithher #karlhaendel #election2016

A photo posted by Susanne Vielmetter LA Projects (@vielmettergallery) on

Also presented by Susanne Vielmetter, Andrea Bowers’s flashing LED sign is ostensibly lighthearted even if the apparent subject matter is anything but.

Rubin Ortiz Torres offered his bleak view of the United States with Black Star Spangled Banner, seen at OMR. His sculpture of an emaciated man lying prostrate near a blackened American flag has clear racial implications. Still, the image horrifies on many levels.

Nuestro booth con Atelier van Lieshout, Rubén Ortiz Torres y Pia Camil. #artbasel2016 | Booth B19

A photo posted by Galería OMR (@galeriaomr) on

Despite their largely grim and provocative nature, the pieces are undeniably relevant to the most polarizing year of recent memory and, as such, were among the most prized by collectors at 2016 Miami Art Basel.

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