Why Is the Art World Going Crazy Over This Photo of a Trump Fan and a Koons Sculpture?

It was supposedly taken at billionaire Eli Broad's museum.

A Trump supporter purportedly checking out a Jeff Koons sculpture at the Broad Museum, Los Angeles.

“America is hard to see,” as the poet Robert Frost once put it.

Sometimes, though, it hits you right between the eyes.

A photograph making the rounds on the Internet right now purports to show a Trump supporter, complete with “Trump for President 2016” t-shirt, trademark red baseball cap, blue backpack emblazoned with red-and-white stripes, and a gratuitous fanny pack strapped to her side, standing in front of Jeff Koons’s sculpture Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988).

It’s only missing a bald eagle, mom, and an apple pie—unless, of course, the woman pictured is your mom.

The image brings together America’s celebrity worship disorder on several levels. Koons, love him or hate him, doubtless aims to mirror the country’s fascination with fame in the personage of one of the most famous people on the planet; Trump’s candidacy owes almost entirely to his own status as a reality TV star. Stripped of the support of traditional Republican pooh-bahs, the Republican National Convention, which runs from July 18-21 in Cleveland, kicked off with none other than Scott Baio, who starred as Chachi Arcola on the television sitcom “Happy Days,” a show which presented a vision of just the kind of white America Trump supporters long for.

Is the photo real? Is it Photoshopped? We don’t know for sure. It showed up on artist Vik Muniz’s Facebook page July 15, which is probably part of what led to its current popularity.

It first appeared on Reddit a couple of months ago, posted by user Daniel Keller, as a comment on a post concerning Trump’s tendency to exaggerate. Keller posted it under the title “America to the Americanth power squared” and with a caption claiming it was taken at the Broad Museum, in Los Angeles. At about the same time, it appeared as a comment on a tweet by critic Jerry Saltz.

We’re not saying Koons is a Republican, but after reports that he retaliated against staff who attempted to unionize, we could imagine him following Chachi as a speaker in Cleveland.

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