The truth behind the mysterious painting people can’t stop talking about.
"The Republican Club" by Andy Thomas
This weekend, Donald Trump appeared for an interview on the CBS news program “60 Minutes.” Several important news stories came out of that interview but the thing most people want to talk about today on social media is the strange portrait some viewers noticed hanging from inside the White House.
In the painting, President Trump is seen at a card table playing poker with past Republican presidents, including Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush and Dwight Eisenhower. And most interestingly, Trump appears to be sharing a humorous anecdote with none other than Abraham Lincoln.
At first glance, it looks a bit like one of those knock-off paintings you might see at a souvenir, a sort of political version of the famous dogs playing poker painting.
However, as the Washington Post reports, the painting has a far more interesting and specific history than Trump critics and fans alike realized.
The whole story is worth a read for all of the funny and bizarre historical anecdotes. But it turns out “The Republican Club” painter Andy Thomas is just an artist, making the best versions of political theater that he can. He’s made similar paintings for Democratic presidents and dutifully deflects all of the Post’s questions about deeper political meaning. But there are a few awesome exceptions:
The painting contains every Republican president in history. Yet, several people noticed an out of focus woman in the background. The reasoning: “That would be the first woman Republican president. I did the same thing in the Democratic painting.”
He admits to slimming down Trump but says he did it with all the presidents: “I wanted to make everybody look as good-looking as they can, and try to shed the pounds where I need to. Or smooth some lines. I did it with every figure.”
It’s not the actual painting: “It’s a high-quality laser print. The original is still in my studio.”
Trump himself called to discuss his appreciation for it, though he admitted he isn’t a big fan of art generally: “A couple weeks ago, we got a call. Somebody at the White House said, ‘Trump wants to speak with you.’ Sure enough, he did.”
There’s no deeper meaning to what Lincoln and Trump are discussing: “I have no idea. That’s the funny thing: We don’t know how they would get along. Just because they’re all Republican doesn’t mean they actually like each other.”
Mental health was one of the many things he considered: “The first painting I did in 2008, originally I had Richard Nixon looking paranoid and covering his cards. I thought about that and thought: “That is not right. The poor man suffered from clinical paranoia, I shouldn’t be making fun of it.” I intentionally look for happy pictures.”
He has a good sense of humor about all the mean things people are saying about him, including some celebrities like George Takei: “[Laughs.] I’m used to it. It’s kind of discouraging that sometimes people are so venomous, but that’s the way it is. I just paint! It’s kind of a nice life.”
Trump is, in fact, drinking a Diet Coke: “Yes. I researched it.”