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Monday, February 6, 2017

Donald Trump's Tastes in Art

President Trump's favorite painting? This portrait was done by Ralph Wolfe Cowan in 1987. The left hand was purposely left unfinished by the artist for many years. Finally completed in 2002 for a price of $4,000, the original fee for the portrait was 24,000 (1987) dollars.
As the title indicates, I began writing this as an informative piece detailing our new president's tastes in art. It wasn't long before I began to realize that the man, for the most part, has no taste in art. I don't mean that as a snide comment at all, and you'll notice that I qualified that rather absolute statement with the words, "for the most part." Insofar as I can tell, he does have a liking for portraits (especially of himself), for 24K gold, for Louis XIV interiors, and plush surfaces. Beyond that, as with many married men (myself included), it's hard to divine precisely how much of their taste in the fine arts are truly their own and how much are, in fact, derives from that of their wives. In the case of Melania Trump, she has excellent, highly refined artistic tastes which, fortunately, seem to be a moderating influence as to those of her husband. Donald Trump can be lavish, brash, and frequently flamboyant, but, seldom, thanks to his wife, goes "over the top" to wallow in outright bad taste. In fact, if ;his recent redecorating of the Oval Office (below) is any indication, the Trump White House seems likely to be little changed, and quite restrained as to the usual personal adjustments in décor.

The Trump touch...Little of the new décor is really "new."
From the carpet to the drapes virtually all items have seen
use in previous administrations.

Designer Angelo Donghia
Quite apart from Melania Trump, much of Donald Trump's tastes in art, and especially interior design, derives from the influence of his long-ago friend, Angelo Donghia (left), known as "the Saint Laurent of sofas." Besides Trump, Donghia has designed for such A-list clients as Ralph Lauren, Barbara Walt-ers, Mary Tyler Moore, Liza Minelli, Neil Simon, and Diana Ross. He died in 1985 at the age fifty, at which time he was posthumously inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame. Unlike many hyperactive, entrepreneurial, bil-lionaire politicians, Donald Trump's tastes in art do not revolve around dé-corative media such as paintings, drawings, etchings, sculpture of any of the other art trinkets many of his peers pursue. Donald Trump collects archi-tecture. "The Donald," our Mr. Presi-dent, collects soaring glass and steel like Justin Bieber collects traffic tickets. In fact, you might ;say Trump has one of the most expensive art collections the world has ever known. His trademark "Trump Towers" (some of which he does not actually own) dot the urban landscape in major cities around the world. One can only wonder if his stint in the White House will slow down such acquisitions or rev them up (in the hands of his progeny, of course).

An urban status symbol or a black mark? Only time will
tell. (Some of these may be in various stages of
construction at the moment.)

There are those who wonder, given his lavish lifestyle, just how much time President Trump will actually spend living in the White House. Several presidents have had summer "white houses" in more desirable locations than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Take a look at Trumps taste in domestic décor (below) and ask yourself, not where you would rather live (the White House or the Trump Tower) but where you think Trump would feel most at home. Will his Fifth Avenue high-rise see more use than the free government housing located in a crime-ridden neighborhood (to hear him tell it) of Washington, D.C.?

Lap of luxury: Donald and Melania Trump's New York City penthouse is on the 66th floor of Trump Tower and features marble walls, floors and columns throughout. 24-carat gold accents like platters, lamps, vases and crown moldings outline each room and with their tableau ceilings.
When it came to creating the ultimate luxurious home for the Trumps, Angelo Donghia kept Louis XIV in mind while picking furniture and textiles. Louis XIV led the absolute monarchy during France's classical age, ruling from 1643 until 1715, and was known for his aggressive foreign policy (sound familiar?). His political principles were not quite in line with democracy, as he ruled with complete control over the country and was known as The Sun King. Trump Tower was completed in 1983. It is home to not only the billionaire businessman but also to retail stores and other businesses. But the Louis XIV-style apartment is just one of Donald Trump's luxurious properties. His other larger-than-life mansion sits in the sunshine state. Mar-A-Lago sits on 80,000 square feet in ritzy Palm Beach, Florida. Trump purchased the estate for $5 million in 1985 and had the entire place renovated--all 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, a 29-foot marble top dining table, and 12 fireplaces. There's also the Kluge Estate (below) near Charlottesville, Virginia, a 2,000 acre vineyard with a 23,000 square-foot mansion. He also owns approximately forty New York City penthouses of various sizes, a Colonial style mansion in Beverly Hills, California, a farm near Bedford, New York, not to mention a nine-bedroom beachfront villa called "Plum Bay" on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten.

Donald Trump can't claim much credit for the obvious good taste seen in his Albemarle (Kluge) Estate. He purchased it fully furnished from Kluge's bankrupt widow.
And then there are the jet aircraft. Having been besieged by media coverage of the Trump run for the White House last summer, we all know what the outside of the aging Boeing 757 looks like, but's not Louis XIV, but the Sun King would not feel at all uncomfortable as a guest. Once more, rich, dark woods, gold, and white dominate the overstuffed contours of the spacious cabin.

Lunch is served...usually KFC or other fast food on the campaign trail.
Like an abstract painting rife with escalators,
New York City's Trump Tower lobby is designed
to reflect the mega-tastes of its namesake.

Melania's Trump Tower office.

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