Barbara Kruger’s piece, inspired by Hilary Clinton’s campaign, virtually copies the artist’s famous “Your body is a battleground print” with a few (more political) adjustments.
The presidential race is everywhere – we see it on TV, hear it over the radio, and read it in the newspaper. Now, thanks to Artists at the Front, a project cultivated and promoted by the National Endowment for the Arts, the race is breaking into the art world: the four main candidates (Clinton, Sanders, Trump, and Cruz) will each be followed and studied by an established American artist, who will then create work that represents each politician and the policies they represent.
As Hyperallergic notes, this project is a first for the NEA, which until now purposefully distanced itself from controversy. In contrast to the agency’s previous projects, Artists at the Front involves already-controversial personalities and policies, particularly those of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Richard Prince will be working with Trump, and photographer Ryan McGinley will work with Sanders. Tagging along with Hilary Clinton and Ted Cruz will be Barbara Kruger and Romero Britto, respectively.
Perhaps most interesting is the artists’ commitment to the project. Prince, the “enfant terrible” of the art world,” admits that Trump is a fascinating character. While his policies and personality offend and divide people, Prince is attracted to the “interesting guy.” Besides the appeal of involvement with political characters, artists embraced the challenge of being selected for the project. As the article notes, a thorough vetting process tested the artist’s drive to be “at the Front.”
The project will also draw more attention to art policy and politicians’ involvement with the arts. Interestingly, the most talked-about candidate also has the most controversial stance on the arts. For decades, Donald Trump has demonstrated and vocalized a disregard and disrespect for art and its conservation. Again, this is a way in which the NEA, which Trump has vowed to defund, is inserting itself in a competitive political arena it used to always keep at arm’s length.