Free Speech and Artistic Expression…DENIED

The crazy leftists are no-platforming everyone now. Look at this magnificent work of art!

It was shown at CPAC, where everyone loved it, so it must be objectively valuable. However, when the artist, Julian Raven, demanded that the 16-foot-wide masterpiece be given space at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, they refused. I can’t imagine why.

Raven was inspired to create the giant image in 2015 when he saw Trump campaigning on television — roughly the left third of the 300-pound painting is devoted to a giant neck-up rendering of the then-presidential candidate, with the rest depicting a bald eagle flying through space with a giant American flag in its talons and our pitiable blue planet in the background, with no idea what it had in store. Raven, driven by this searing vision to complete the painting in three weeks, hoped to display the work at the Smithsonian in coincidence with the 2017 inauguration, but found himself roundly rejected by the gallery’s director, Kim Sajet, who told him that it was “too political” and “too big” and, generally, just not very good.

“The last thing she said to me was ‘it’s no good,’” Raven is quoted as saying. Welcome to the art world, buddy.

What does a good wingnut do in such a situation? He sued, of course. His suit was dismissed, so now he’s appealing the decision.

Gee, that art director shouldn’t have said that. They were too generous — I’d have said that was a shit painting that deserves to be displayed in the dumpster out back.


  1. Ed Seedhouse says

    @3: “put it in the men’s bathroom”

    Good idea. But on the floor so we can piss on it.

    Also, that eagle is doing unspeakable things to the holiest of holiest American Flag. And they call themselves patriots!

  2. Sili says

    Pity for the ‘artist’ that he didn’t show it to Trump before he was forced to dissolve his ‘charitable’ foundation. Apparently their main focus of charity was to support struggling geniuses through strawman bidders at auctions.

  3. PaulBC says

    Maybe if Trump were portrayed as a big-eyed waif. That would at least be an improvement.

  4. stroppy says

    So. I Googled. Half expecting some gloob sitting in a dank basement painting on black velvet while ignoring all the interesting spiders surrounding him.


    Let me just say that the art world in general can be a very weird headspace. Referencing P.T. Barnum doesn’t quite capture what seems to be going on here. Yeah he’s an ass, but what kind?

    Look him up. See what you think.

  5. PaulBC says

    stroppy@6 I agree it’s an odd combination. It look like he was doing knock-off Jackson Pollock before he got political. I’m not that impressed by any of it. If you dropped the glowering Trump portrait, I guess it would look nice on the side of a van or possibly an album cover.

  6. consciousness razor says

    Come on, who doesn’t want a yuuuuge painting with fake hair and stars and stripes and a space eagle and … is that some kind of dried up squash?

  7. Ragutis says


    6 August 2019 at 10:48 am

    Look him up. See what you think.

    I’d call much of his other work more decoration than art, but a lot of it isn’t that bad at all. I might look into some when I get my signing bonus from the Browns.

  8. stroppy says

    PaulBC @ 6 I think it’s more than just an odd combination and that there is a thread that binds it all together. What you’re getting is a peek into the nauseating world of contemporary art-speak and the rich.

    IOW, it’s not simply authentically bad; it’s worse than that.

  9. robro says

    It’s very symbolic. The ornate gilded frame represents the Trump’s tacky taste in everything. As pointed out by Ed @ #4, the eagle seems to be ripping the flag, much as Trump et al are doing to America. There’s a star partly hidden by the eagle’s right wing which together with the curved upturned feather looks like the Muslim star and crescent icon representing subservience to antiquated energy sources and the enormous wealth it produces.

    But most curious is the dangling cord or line coming off the left-bottom corner of the flag, which may even be a power cord. That may symbolize how disconnect things are in the USofA these days, while the flapping edge of flag is Trump’s mouth.

    Trump’s characteristic scowl is the stern firmness of a inveterate con man, while the dried squash on his head represents American stupidity and culpability at its finest.

    I mean this is worthy of Warhol. Where’s my soup can.

  10. says

    I have looked at his other paintings, and in my opinion, they are not bad at all.
    This one, however, is pure kitsch terribly made.

  11. PaulBC says

    stroppy@15 Well, I don’t know anything about it. Raven says elsewhere that he is an evangelical Christian, but maybe he has just found another group to hoodwink. His other work seems like bland corporate art to me. I don’t even like original Pollocks much to begin with. I like some abstract impressionists like Kandinsky and Miro, and not all of their work. It is possible that he was confused by the reception to his Trump painting because he’s used to getting accolades for apolitical derivative work.

    Actually, I find Jon McNaughton’s work a lot more fascinating, because he seems sincere and he and his fans can’t pick up on how freaking evil he makes Trump appear in every one of his bizarre symbolic paintings. It’s like you took Onion’s Kelly satire cartoonist and reimagined him as a real, non-ironic conservative who paints.

  12. PaulBC says


    Clearly worth ravin’ about, (Sorry, it’s my go-to Baltimore pun; I lived there 6 years; and Baltimore is stuck in my head, as are raven references.)

  13. Larry says

    Jesus H. Christ! I’ve seen better paintings-on-velvet of Elvis or dogs playing poker than that POS!

  14. robro says

    My son just pointed out one obvious misrepresentation in this painting: it shows the earth as round, and as we all know, it’s flat.

  15. unclefrogy says

    welcome to the art world buddy.
    the primary things for an artist to focus on are “their vision” and does any one buy it for a good price. you seldom can do is pick your buyer or demand a show anywhere you want.
    yes the painting is ugly as judged by the Smithsonian and not suitable for their spaces.
    The art world is extremely broad there are I am sure galleries and other spaces that would gladly show the work . There are probably people who would gladly pay good money for as well.
    . What is he twelve years old demanding he be accepted by his chosen place.
    on top of being a boring artist, one of the greatest sins of in the contemporary art world, he is acting like an idiot. maybe president Pinocchio will “by it”
    uncle frogy

  16. stroppy says


    The comparison to the Franklin Mint (davidc1 @ 17) makes some sense to me.

    Raven is derivative right on down the line, so there’s downscale exploitation of trends there. The sales patter fits in with the kind of canned, self-exploiting narrative art galleries rely on. It’s hard for me to get a handle on exactly how much intentional irony is involved with him. I suspect not a whole lot. He does have some basic competence and an awareness of art history and what’s current — but with a high degree of shamelessness thrown in. Judging by his studio, it looks like he’s made some bucks by his antics.

    Just my first take.

  17. stroppy says

    @27 That brought back some memories! I attended that World’s Fair. (I also spent too much time watching Leo Gorcey and the Bowery Boys on TV.)

    Keane was quite popular back in the day. I’d forgotten how those big eyes were popping up everywhere. So many eyes…

  18. robert79 says

    I guess I’m not primed into seeing US patriotic symbols…

    I did not immediately recognize the brown thing as an eagle, to me it looked like a crevasse with teeth/tentacles opening up in the globe and slurping up the US flag while Trump looked on approvingly.

    Now I can’t unsee that.

  19. says

    The painting looks like something a teenage kid would do. I can imagine it as a piece of fan art, with Trump replaced by characters from their favourite TV show or movie.

    McNaughton’s art makes me think of the kind of art I used to see in the Jehovah’s Witness publications Awake! and The Watchtower. Living near a Kingdom Hall we used to get them dumped in our mailbox regularly.

  20. komarov says

    After giving the matter all the consideration it deserves, I have decided that the painting shows an old and somewhat grey Elvis Presley. It doesn’t make it better, just different.

  21. nomdeplume says

    Wait, so as well as demanding the right to speak to any audience in any venue any time, to appear on any media outlet anywhere any time, they now demand the right to have their “art” hung in any gallery anywhere? America, your “first amendment” is almost as damaging to your country as your second amendment.

  22. PaulBC says

    nomdeplume@37 The first amendment does not actually guarantee your right to have whatever crap you painted hung in the Smithsonian, but yeah, it’s a pretty common misunderstanding.

  23. nomdeplume says

    PaulBC@ Yes, I know that wasn’t the intention (which I guess was to ensure you didn’t get your head chopped off for criticising the king/president), but it has been weaponised by the Right in that way.

  24. Ragutis says


    6 August 2019 at 5:45 pm

    America, your “first amendment” is almost as damaging to your country as your second amendment.

    Some people just can’t seem to understand that while they have the right to express themselves, the first amendment doesn’t obligate anyone to give them a soapbox. Like they don’t understand the “well regulated” bit of the second.

  25. royhilbinger says

    Actually, this is perfectly appropriate to the lack of class the toddler-in-chief has brought to the office. Painting on velvet is the perfect medium for that trailer trash mentality!

  26. Derek Vandivere says

    Man, I thought my wife (who’s now become pretty much the leading technical expert on the Vermeer painting Girl with a Pearl Earring) had it bad with her stalkers. She gets a few loonies who are absolutely convinced they’ve seen something in a 17th century painting that has never been seen before. One of them was pretty clearly hitting on her before she noticed that I was standing next to her and our wedding rings match. Another keeps sending her massive emails with Fibonacci sequences overlaid everywhere, especially crotches.

  27. PaulBC says

    Derek Vandivere@45

    I’m pretty sure that headscarf is hiding an elongated cranium and that “earring” is obviously a communication device of some kind. I’m so glad I know who to tell now!

  28. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out Girl with a Pearl Earring is just what it looks like, a pearl attached to a young lady’s ear, when view in the (usually visible light) electromagnetic spectrum. However viewed in the proper manner