President Trump uses a thick marker, (black licorice-scented), to ejaculate a series of abstract lines, mostly at right angles, spasmodically across a nine by eleven-and-a-half inch sheet of paper. Each individual skyscraper is delineated by six or so of these marks, blocked together with thrashing haste, emphasizing a Tetris-like perspective of the Big Apple. At the center of the skyline is what must be Trump Tower itself, suggested by the extra care and attention lavished on its form.
The cityscape is composed with remarkable speed, with many of the slashing lines tailed by little check marks, belying the fervor and sprezzatura with which the President drew, neglecting at times to pick his marker fully up off the paper, clenched in his white knuckled fist like a knife. Connoisseurs will note that his radical geometrization of the city recalls the works of Precisionist painters from the first half of the twentieth century, such as Joseph Stella’s Voice of the City, or George O’Keeffe’s Brooklyn Bridge, yet devoid of color, of any additional depth or thought that might have been conveyed by the blueberry blue, or minty green marker. Other critics have drawn parallels to Duchamp’s Fountain, or Piero Manzoni’s canned shit.
Slicing across the center of the paper, oriented “hot dog” style, are two swooping lines which hint at the curve of the Hudson river. Nature, thus depicted, abhors a straight line, yet serves as the foundation for the blocky skyline above – in this way Trump meditates on the human / nature binary, as expressed by the swoop of the curved line of nature, contrasted by the right angles of the toothy skyline above, described by one critic as the “frenetic phallic gibberish” of the Manhattan skyline, at the center of which Trump situates his own skyscraper.
Or perhaps, seen in contrast to the scene above, the swooping lines are an enormous equals sign, equating Trump’s signature, signed in golden glitter marker (which he was warned not to sniff anymore), with the skyline above. The city is Trump; Trump is the city. Or perhaps the real skyline is his signature, more varied, practiced, and interesting in its shape and execution than the skyline above. Trump’s seal thus suggests that Trump-as-painter is more real that the city itself; value, it seems, resides not in the city itself, but rather, in the signature Trump brand.