Conservative artist Julian Raven is reportedly suing the Smithsonian museum because they refuse to display his giant painting of President Donald Trump. The painting is called “Unafraid & Unashamed” and is 16-feet wide by 8-feet tall. “It’s a painting of Trump. It’s gotta be yuge!” Raven said.
According to the Daily Beast, Raven has been trying to convince the Smithsonian to display his painting, has already attempted to sue through the U.S. district court in Washington D.C., and is now threatening to take his case to the supreme court. Raven will reportedly be representing himself.
Raven says that when he asked the National Portrait Gallery to display his painting for Trump’s 2017 inauguration, he was told by the gallery director, Kim Sajet, that the painting was “too political” and “too big.” To add insult to injury, Sajet even told Raven that the painting was “not very good.”
“The last thing she said to me was ‘it’s no good,’” Raven lamented.
Raven is now accusing the museum of infringing upon his First Amendment rights and his Fifth Amendment right to due process. However, if Raven has a right to display his painting in a museum, that means every U.S. citizen has the same right, regardless of the size or quality of the art.
To be fair, Raven is a talented painter and the gallery has hosted paintings of other presidents, like former President Barack Obama for example, but they do have the right to select whichever pieces they want for display.
Raven says that the art world “is controlled by very strong political ideologies on the left.”
Raven explained that he got the idea for the painting while watching Trump on TV in 2015.
“I just had the words go through my mind: unafraid and unashamed. The image in my mind was this soaring flagpole, a U.S. flag pole falling to the ground. Right before it falls to the ground, an eagle swoops in and snatches it,” Raven said.
Raven says that his association with Trump has had a negative impact on his art business. “It’s been a very uncertain and oftentimes very discouraging journey that did affect negatively my art career. My art sales just took a nosedive,” Raven said.
The supreme court is expected to confirm the ruling of Judge Trevor McFadden, who presided over the case in the U.S. district court of D.C. The judge said that the museum has “what amounts to complete discretion in choosing portraits,” and that to force them to show a specific piece of art would essentially be compelling speech from them—violating their first amendment rights.
“The First Amendment simply does not apply to government art selections, no matter how arbitrary,” Judge Trevor McFadden wrote in his ruling.
The piece was shown at CPAC this year, where it received rave reviews from conservatives.
incredible art at CPAC this year pic.twitter.com/yxZyMdpNeb
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) February 28, 2019