Who Should Paint Donald Trump’s Portrait? We Asked 11 Art-World Figures Who They Think Is Up to the Task

Adrian Piper, Hank Willis Thomas, Judith Bernstein, and others weigh in with their votes for Trump's future portraitist.

From left: Peter Saul's President Trump Becomes a Wonder Woman, Unifies the Country and Fights Rocket Man (2017); James Ostrer, Emotion Download 213M (2016). Image courtesy of James Ostrer; A naked statue of Donald Trump at Julien's Auctions Gallery on October 17, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Barnaby Furnas's The Rally (2017-18), courtesy of the aritst; Andres Serrano's Trump (2004); A mural by artist TvBoy; Nina Chanel Abney's Cop (2017).

Last week, the National Portrait Gallery announced that the recently unveiled portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama had caused attendance at the National Portrait Gallery to skyrocket by more than 300 percent. The artists behind the works, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, were the first black painters to receive the commission. They also chose to break with the traditional style of presidential portraiture in favor of more conceptual views of their subjects.

Donald Trump’s countenance has also inspired many artistic interpretations—including quite a few that have been less than flattering. Who would best capture him for his own forthcoming portrait? artnet News reached out to 11 opinionated art world denizens for suggestions. Here are their picks for President Trump’s future portraitist.

Maurizio Cattelan, rendering of America (2016). © Maurizo Cattelan. Photo: Menomenopiu Architects. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.

Michael Rakowitz, artist

Maurizio Cattelan could do it. He’s the Sascha Baron Cohen of the art world. In a way, with America, he already did it. Another idea would be to get a psychic to make contact with Thomas Kinkade. He could then guide the psychic in painting the portrait.

Screenshot of Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. Courtesy of NBC.

Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. Courtesy of NBC.

Wendi Norris, founder of Gallery Wendi Norris

I’m not sure who would take on that project, really. The better presidential portrait would be that of Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump.

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

Photo by Ben Schwartz of a Trump supporter checking out Jeff Koons’s “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” at the Broad Museum, Los Angeles.

Adrian Piper, artist

Jeff Koons.

Donald Trump being interviewed by “Donald Trump,” as played by Jimmy Fallon. Screenshot courtesy of The Tonight Show, © NBC.

Andrea Glimcher, founder of Hyphen art advisory

Beginning in 1796 with Gilbert Stuart’s painting of George Washington, every US president has been the subject of an official portrait. As this practice will continue with Donald Trump, I think the only person fit to render his likeness is Trump himself. His should absolutely be a self-portrait. Self-portraiture can be many things: vanity, self-scrutiny, experimentation—regardless, it often reveals so much more than originally intended. Even if Trump evades genuine self-examination, whatever image of himself he concocts and the medium he chooses will be informative. Eventually he should look in the mirror. He may never do it, but for posterity we should ask him to and record what he sees. It will speak volumes.

Left: Cecilia Giménez’s famously botched restoration of Ecce Homo (1930/2012). Right: Donald Trump. Photo courtesy of David Becker/Getty Images.

Natalie Frank, artist

Cecilia Gimenez, author of the worst restoration in history. She messed up Christ. I’d like to see her screw Trump.

Odd Nerdrum's <i>Sisyphus</i> (n.d.). Courtesy of the artist.

Odd Nerdrum’s Sisyphus (n.d.). Courtesy of the artist.

William Powhida, artist

As an admirer of Norwegians, Trump should choose Odd Nerdrum, a self-proclaimed contrarian painter of kitsch, who is not only capable of rendering Trump’s flesh, but having experienced his own tax challenges, he may also be able to capture Trump’s interiority.

Judith Bernstein’s President (2017). © Judith Bernstein, courtesy of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery.

Judith Bernstein, artist

Me—who else could better capture the essence of 45?! In my latest “Money Shot” series I have a portrait, President (2017), showing Trump for what he is: a fool, a monster, a jester, a sexist, a racist. Donald Trump is a con artist, using the White House as his own personal cash machine.

Ryan Alexiev and Hank Willis Thomas’s Breakfast of Champions (2009). Via Instagram @hankwillisthomas.

Hank Willis Thomas, artist

Ryan Alexiev does portraits in cereal. We did one of Obama in 2009. Speaks to the sugary commodity we try to brand and elect every season.

John Alexander's <i>Lost Souls</i> (2013). © John Alexander.

John Alexander’s Lost Souls (2013). © John Alexander.

David Kratz, president of the New York Academy of Art

John Alexander, because he paints nature at its best and man at his worst.

Donald Trump sexual assault monologue protest poster for International Women's Day. Courtesy of Halt Action Group.

Donald Trump sexual assault monologue protest poster for International Women’s Day. Courtesy of Halt Action Group.

Jasmine Wahi, founder of Project for Empty Space

Terry Richardson because they deserve each other. This is harder than I thought because I can’t think of any painting I would want to see less, or any person I’d want to subject to painting him. But someone who might have the stomach for it is either Francis Bacon (and not just because he’s dead) or Paul McCarthy or Marilyn Minter—because who wouldn’t want to see those interpretations?

George W. Bush's portrait of Vladimir Putin along with a photo that can be found in a Google image search.

Right: George W. Bush’s portrait of Vladimir Putin.

Harry Philbrick, founding director of Philadelphia Contemporary 

Since the only qualified, living artist—George W. Bush—would no doubt refuse the commission, I’m afraid we have to conjure up artists from the past worthy of the task. We’ll skip past Eisenhower and Churchill to get to the politician-artist whose ability to mesmerize the populace, along with his lack of morals, perhaps best matches Trump—Adolf Hitler.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.